Credit: Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division
Georgia snake's strange 'death' performance leaves viewers horrified
A bizarre video shared this week by Georgia wildlife officials has convinced a growing number of people the state is home to mentally unstable snakes.
The video, which had 31 million views as of Thursday, shows a black reptile that looks and acts like a venomous cobra — at first.
It quickly follows that act by flipping over on its back and whipping in spirals — as if trying to tie itself in a knot. And it does this with its mouth wide open and its little forked tongue stuck out and flicking.
Then, the writhing snake appears to die, suddenly going limp. “Nope, not a cobra,” the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division wrote on Facebook.
“It’s actually just a native eastern hognose putting on the theatrical performance of its life. When this creepy critter feels threatened, it flares its neck and body by breathing in deeply and then expelling the air with an impresssssive hiss. If that doesn’t work, a hognose will forcefully roll onto its back and begin to writhe violently as if in terrible pain.”
It gets worse.
In some cases, this “death performance” will include sounds, regurgitated food, pooping uncontrollably, a stinky musk smell and bleeding from the mouth, experts say.
“Talk about dedication,” the state wrote. “Afterwards, the snake will appear lifeless and limp, confident that all potential predators have decided on a different main course. ... Does the hognose deserve an Academy Award?”
Among the oddities of the species: They are “immune to poisons produced by toads and are equipped with large teeth (called rear fangs) in the back of their mouths,” according to the Savannah River Ecology Lab at the University of Georgia. Eastern hognose snakes grow to nearly 4 feet and are known to be “mildly venomous,” the state says.
The 40-second video was posted as part of the wildlife division’s “Creepy Critter Week” leading up to Halloween. As of Thursday, the video had gotten more than 119,000 reactions.
Many among the 9,000-plus commenters called the snake’s bizarre behavior nothing short of terrifying. Some said it appeared to be “trying” to eat himself,” while others wondered if they were witnessing a snake having a “mental breakdown” ... which made it seem scarier.
“Is he just actually crazy...? Alissa Austin asked.
“That would scare me to death,” Thomas Hougas said.
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with The Telegraph.