ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Legends and Lore: Hoop Snakes

Updated on February 21, 2018
husslindsey profile image

An artist and writer from Pittsburgh, Lindsey has been a scholar of the dark and creepy since childhood.

Hoop Snake Cartoon
Hoop Snake Cartoon | Source

Hoop Snakes

“Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?” to famously quote Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Snakes are wriggly creatures that are both harmful and helpful and strike both fear and love into the hearts of millions, not necessarily at the same time.

As scary as regular snakes are, hoop snakes are a lot worse. The hoop snake lives in North America or Australia, depending on the story. They don’t move the same way as traditional snakes. Hoop snakes bite the ends of their tales to form a hoop. In this hoop form, the snake rolls itself like a wheel or a hula-hoop to get from place to place. While some fear a snake wriggling towards them in the grass, seeing a snake

in the form of a wheel rolling towards you at a fast pace is all the more terrifying.

Origins

The origin of the hoop snake isn’t completely clear, but stories have been told in the United States since the early 1700’s. According to legend, the snake bites its tail to form a hoop. It launches itself towards its prey. The only way to escape is to jump over a fence or hide behind a tree. The snake unfurls itself at the last minute and stings its prey with its tail. The prey then promptly dies of the poison.

While no one is really sure how this story started, there is something that could have sparked this legend. If a snake is stressed, sick, or lacking food, it will begin to eat its own tail. This is not a typical behavior of snakes. Perhaps witnesses saw a snake exhibiting such behavior and had no way of explaining it?

Stressed snake eating its tail
Stressed snake eating its tail | Source

Encounters

There aren’t many stories about the hoop snake other than old tall tales. One story goes a farmer was working in his field when a hoop snake came rolling towards him. The farmer used his hoe as a shield and the snake’s stinging tail got stuck in the hoe. When the farmer returned at sundown to reclaim his hoe, the snake was dead, still stuck to the handle.

Another story tells of a man walking through the woods. A hoop snake came barreling towards him at a high rate of speed. Thinking quickly, the man jumped behind a tree. The snake’s tail struck the tree and it became stuck. The snake died trying to free itself. The man observed the snake and saw the tail was full of poison.

In 1905, the state of Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture actually offered a $500 reward for anyone who could prove the existence of the hoop snake. No one ever came forward for the reward or with evidence.

In Pop Culture

Hoop snakes are one of the few legends that do not typically appear in popular culture. The best example is the Pecos Bill stories. Pecos Bill uses a snake as a lasso, similar to the hoop snake.

A robot was modeled after the hoop snake to mimic its movements, bringing some modern life to the old legend. The rolling robot is helping pave the way for other robotics experiments.

Cartoon of a hoop snake
Cartoon of a hoop snake | Source

Watch Your Step

The next time you find yourself out in the woods or in the Outback, make sure you look down so you don’t step on a snake. Also make sure you look up occasionally, just in case a hoop snake is rolling towards you. And don’t forget to hide behind a tree!

Research Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoop_snake

http://blog.al.com/strange-alabama/2012/04/hoop_snakes_are_no_hula_hoops.html

http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/stressed-out-snake-eats-itself/

https://www.livescience.com/20980-robot-rolls-hoop-snake.html

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • husslindsey profile imageAUTHOR

      Lindsey Huss 

      9 months ago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

      Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it! I'd never even thought of the ouroboros. That could very well be what started the story, as has happened with many other stories.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Kitty Fields 

      9 months ago from Summerland

      Maybe look into the symbol Ouroboros. It is literally a snake eating it's own tail. Sometimes a dragon eating its own tail. It was used by the ancients in Egypt and in Europe to represent the never-ending cycle of life/death/rebirth. Perhaps this legend of the "hoop snake" was another means of scaring pagans out of their old traditions so they'd take on the new religious ones? Very cool article...I'd never heard of hoop snakes but automatically thought of ouroboros!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)