Wildlife Officials Share Shocking News About the Newfound Threat of ‘Zombie Snakes’

Nature is full of bizarre and terrifying creatures. From poisonous bugs with enormous stingers to boat-sized fish with razor-sharp teeth, you’re basically putting your life on the line every time you leave the house. But while most of us would be justified in being afraid of a creature that was alive, what about one that appeared to be dead?

After one Ohio man’s attempt to rescue a snake ended with the reptile losing its life, he decided to give the creature a proper burial. However, after returning to where he had left the snake, he made a startling discovery that soon had the entire nation rapt with fear.

As Steve Willson of Blue Jay Barrens made his way to his barn to check the rodent traps he’d set, he expected to find a few unlucky rats that stumbled their way inside. Sure enough, the trap was full, though not with a rodent.

Instead, a large brown snake stared back at him, the front half of its body dangling from the cage. The creature had apparently slithered its way inside in search of food, though on its way out, it had lodged itself between the wire mesh of the trap.

Blue Jay Barren

Hoping to prevent the snake from injuring itself, Willson grabbed a pair of wire cutters and began working to free the creature. Unfortunately, the snake wasn’t going to be so cooperative.

Krbo / Flickr

As Willson worked to remove the wire, the snake flattened its head and neck in an attempt to chase off its perceived attacker. When that failed, it began hissing loudly and let out a deep, guttural noise that was almost a moan.

Blue Jay Barren

Still, Willson continued his work on the cage, prompting the snake to begin striking at him with all its might. Strangely, it never once bared its teeth to bite — instead, it chose only to tap Willson repeatedly with its nose.

National Park Service

Finally, Willson could slide the snake free from the cage, though as he did, it began to seize in his hand. After expelling the contents of its stomach and bowels, the creature stopped moving and went limp.

Blue Jay Barren

With the snake dead, Willson brought it out of the barn and laid it in the grass. He went to the shed to find a shovel to bury the poor creature, though when he returned, he couldn’t believe his eyes…

Blue Jay Barren

The snake was gone! Had a predator simply walked by and scooped the dead reptile up for a free meal, or were a different set of forces at play here? Forces that were perhaps… supernatural?

The North Carolina Division of State Parks and Recreation seemed to have the answer, or, at least, an idea of what the usual snake really was. Unfortunately, their identification likely did little to settle Willson’s nerves — or anyone else’s, for that matter.

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Beneath a Facebook photo of the very same species of snake, the department wrote: “Instead of watching clouds to see if we can keep weekend weather on track, let’s play a game! Who is this ‘famous’ NC snake? A cobra? A zombie snake?”


At the mere mention of a so-called zombie snake, the internet was worked into a frenzy. Taking the department’s post as a warning, people all over the country began fearing that these undead snakes would soon show up at their doorsteps.


As “zombie snake” hysteria continued grow, the department realized it had to put an end to these outrageous rumors. No, the creature pictured wasn’t some dead reptile come back to life: it was an eastern hognose snake.


According to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at the University of Georgia, eastern hognose snakes are “easily distinguished by their upturned snouts, but they are variable in color.”

Discover Magazine Blog

Found all over the eastern United States, these snakes are also known as “puff adders” for their propensity to puff up to ward off predators, just as the snake Willson found did as he tried to free it.


But the snake also has another peculiar defense mechanism: playing dead. When in danger, the eastern hognose will roll onto its back with its mouth agape and lie there until the threat moves on.

Strange as the snake may be, the department also wanted to make clear that eastern hognoses pose no threat whatsoever. Even with its tendency to strike and growl, a human would be totally safe if they encountered one.


“[The eastern hognose is] a mostly harmless snake that rarely ever bites humans,” the department went on to explain. “It puts on quite a dramatic display to deter predators, including puffing up its head to look more like a cobra or pretending to be dead briefly. Nevertheless, they are NOT aggressive and rarely bite people.”

Funny enough, this isn’t the first time that misinformation about the eastern hognose has caused a stir. One old folk tale actually refers to the snake as a “blow viper” and even claims that its breath is enough to kill a man.

Jeff Pippen

“Another old myth says that the hognose snake can mix venom with its breath and is thus able to kill a person from a distance of twenty-five feet,” said representatives of the Florida Museum. “In truth, its breath is harmless.”

With this silly misunderstanding cleared up, most people have put aside their fear of “zombie snakes” terrorizing their town. Still, that doesn’t rule out the potential for dangerous snakes to find their way into your home, especially if you live in an area with a warmer climate.

The Plumbette

Floridians are used to wild reptiles roaming across their lawns, but a couple of decades ago, nobody in the state even knew about the Burmese Python. Reaching a length of 23 feet and weighing over 160 pounds, these beasts will eat anything from mice to adult deer.


As their name suggests, the reptiles are native to Asia’s tropics, but they were now running wild all over the Everglades. Scientists theorize that following the destruction of Hurricane Andrew, pythons escaped from a zoo and bred like wildfire.

Frank Mazzotti didn’t know quite where the snakes came from, but he was determined to stop them from spreading into densely populated areas, like Miami. The biologist swore to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them. But would that be enough?


Everglades locals tried all kinds of tricks to root out the serpents. They put snake-sniffing dogs out in the marshes and even set loose radio-equipped “Judas snakes” to hopefully reveal their home base. The pythons only continued to grow.

FL Keys News

Word got around that the reptiles took over an abandoned Nike missile site. While that in and of itself didn’t threaten anyone, Floridians feared that if left unchecked, the pythons would breed at an incredible rate.

The Bohemian Blog

Who knew — it could’ve only been a matter of time until the snakes expanded beyond the missile base and started showing up in places that were more…personal. The stakes were dire, but Frank learned of one group that could help.

Rex Features

Deep in the forests of southern India, the Irula people have mastered snake catching. They see it as an art and take the practice incredibly seriously, even after India has slapped strict regulations on snake trading.

Deccan Chronicle

In recent years, the Irulas have captured poisonous reptiles for the purpose of producing antivenoms. Clearly, there was nobody on Earth more qualified. But how could Floridians convince this tribe to help a community on the other side of the world?

Frank and his herpetologist pals managed to make contact with the Irulas, and to their surprise, the snake-catchers showed interest in helping them. Granted, the Floridians would have to shell out thousands of dollars and agree to some unusual methods.

Miami Herald

Hard as it was to believe, the Irulas didn’t use any state-of-the-art tools for finding and capturing snakes. Instead, their weapon of choice was something found in any garage: a tire iron.

Video Blocks

Contrary to what you might think, they didn’t intend these tire irons for a Simpsons-style Whacking Day. The Irula used them to clear a path through the brush and pick up snakes, but ultimately they tried to capture the reptiles alive when possible.

Simpsons World

So, Frank welcomed the best Irula hunters, Masi Sadaiyan and Vadivel Gopal, to the Everglades. While both men were in their 50s, they were at the top of their game. But the Floridians got nervous when the Irulas said they’d never before hunted snakes so large.

However, Masi and Vadivel smiled when they shared this fact. They were eager for the challenge, the chance to put their skills to the ultimate test. Granted, their brand of animal control was not without its risks.

From the start, the Irula’s tactics puzzled Frank and his friends. They insisted on marching blindly through the thickest part of the swamp. When a snake’s trail ended, Masi and Vadivel made everyone sit down, pray, and smoke a cigarette.

Frank’s hopes began to wane until one of the Irula’s pointed to a shimmer in the mud. Brandishing their trusty tire irons, Masi and Vadivel scooped up a fully-grown python! That was only the beginning.

Mother Nature Network

With a few more captures under their belts, the Irulas fearlessly plunged into an old missile shaft where herpetologists spotted a nest. The sharp-eyed hunters grasped a muscled python tail and spent hours wrestling it out of tree roots.

Miami Herald

In that one afternoon, the hunters pulled out four monstrous pythons from the overgrown missile shaft. They soon brought their total up to 14 over their first two weeks. While the Irulas couldn’t stay in the Everglades forever, they did the next best thing.

Masi and Vadivel shared their wisdom with the local wildlife management team, which never could’ve located these pythons with conventional techniques. The Irula knowledge could stem the invasion, so the Floridians wanted to give them something in return.

Besides paying the Irulas over $4,000 per python, the Floridians wanted to give them the real American experience. In between expeditions, they watched NFL games and ate hot dogs at Arbetter’s, their favorite greasy spoon.

Roadfood Forums

After a month, the Irulas returned to India feeling invigorated by the hunt of their lives. The Floridians knew they were quite fortunate to find experts to turn back the snake invasion, but of course, it wasn’t always possible to have heroes on hand.

In the spring of 2017, a mother of four named Bianca Dickinson drove her youngest child, Molly, to the end of the long driveway cutting through her ranch in Victoria, Australia. There, she’d meet a snake.

To pass the time while waiting for the school bus to drop off her older kids, Bianca had two-year-old Molly pose for a few photographs. For 15 minutes, the duo played and snapped silly pictures — until the fun came to an abrupt halt.

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

With the school bus in view down the road, Molly posed for one last photo beside a wire fence. She wore a huge grin and pointed behind herself, towards the grass blowing in the wind. It was the perfect photo… or was it?

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“I was looking through my camera lens and was looking at my daughter,” Bianca told ABC Australia. “I saw something move in the corner of my eye and actually thought it was bark coming off the tree.” But it wasn’t bark.

Doug Hyland / Purdue

What Bianca first assumed to be tree bark was actually an eastern brown snake, aka the second-most venomous snake in the entire world. And it was slithering right behind her little girl!

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

Venom from the eastern brown snake can paralyze victims and make their blood so thin that it seeps through their pores. Without immediate treatment, a single bite from this critter can send you to an early grave — and it has enough venom to kill 20 adults.

Sky News

So it was no surprise Bianca’s insides twisted into a cold heap when she saw one of these snakes just inches away from her baby girl. “I think [the snake] was touching her boots,” Bianca said. “It was that close.” But what could she do?

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“All my instincts wanted to run and pick her up and scream and run away,” Bianca said. However, that move, she knew, could’ve had deadly repercussions. If she did that, there was a chance the snake would feel threatened — and strike.

The Sydney Morning Herald / YouTube

Complicating the situation, Bianca had to convey to her daughter that there was a big, deadly snake behind her and not to make any sudden movements or take any violent steps backward…

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

So what did the mother do? She just froze. In doing so, she communicated non-verbally to Molly that she should do the same. “Luckily,” Bianca said, “she copied me.” And the snake?

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

Much to Bianca’s relief, the eastern brown snake slithered away, leaving Molly unharmed. As it disappeared into the tall grass, the school bus dropped off her three older children. But Bianca’s panic hadn’t subsided yet…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

“I just started yelling at my other three kids to get in the car,” she said. “I got in the car and I was shaking.” And who could blame her? Her kids immediately noticed she wasn’t quite right.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

While on the drive back up the driveway, her 13-year-old daughter, Imogen (far left), asked, “What happened? Did you see a snake, mum?” Bianca nodded. “Yes,” she told the kids, and “it was at least two meters.” Her kids didn’t buy it.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

“Oh mum, it wasn’t that big!” Imogen said. But naturally, mother knew best. Back at home, she pulled out her camera and showed her kids the venomous reptile that’d come within inches of their little sister. And it shook them all.

Bianca Dickinson / Facebook

After seeing just how close Molly had come to the wrong end of a snake, Bianca’s older three kids didn’t want to go outside anymore. Worse, in showing the kids the photos, Bianca uncovered another nasty shock…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

She’d been taking pictures of Molly for a while before the school bus showed up, and when she reviewed those photos, she learned just how long the snake had been in striking distance. The eastern brown snake posed beside Molly in three photos!

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

In the aftermath, Bianca couldn’t look at those now-infamous photos and didn’t sleep well for weeks. “Every time I shut my eyes I see that big snake and what could have happened,” she said. “I see Molly being taken away in an ambulance.”

But how did the two-year-old react to her brush with death? Well, when Bianca showed her daughter the photo, the toddler considered it for a moment. And then she said the funniest thing…

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

“That’s me!” Molly said gleefully, pointing at herself, blissfully unaware of the snake in the photo. Bianca couldn’t help but laugh. At least one of her kids wouldn’t end up scarred by the moment!

Bianca Dickinson / Daily Mail

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