The Hoop Snake

Mighty_Emperor

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Feb. 3, 2005, 7:26PM

Hoop-snake sightings still rolling in

By LEON HALE

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

One of the customers, Joyce Denham, has sent me a hoop-snake-sighting report, the first I've received in almost two years.

She was at Langtry, which is upstream from Del Rio on the Rio Grande, and she saw this hoop snake rolling across what she calls the desert.

Nothing especially exciting in the report. Just that snake, making a circle of itself and rolling along, not bothering anybody.

I've been getting hoop-snake stories for I guess 50 years. A reptile of this kind puts its tail in its mouth, arranges itself in a circle, and travels by rolling like a hoop at impressive speeds.

All the snake books I ever read, written by experts, say no such creature exists. Yet I keep getting these hoop-snake-sighting reports, from perfectly intelligent people.

I ought to tell you that Denham saw that snake a long time ago, and is just now telling me about it. Most of the sightings I hear about happened a long time ago that way. I would be really interested in receiving a hoop-snake sighting made in recent times, say within the last couple of years.

So if you see one, let me know. Don't hesitate to include lots of detail. Exactly when and where the sighting occurred. The estimated size of the snake. The direction of its travel, and its approximate speed. Did it seem to be chasing anything? Were there witnesses other than yourself?

Please don't try to fool me. You'll be wasting your effort. I know what a real hoop-snake sighting is like.

A few days after the last time I mentioned these interesting reptiles, I received a report about a hoop snake 12 feet long that had a luminous stinger on the end of its tail and it went around stinging cattle and trees and killing them.

Come on, if we're to unravel this mystery, we must deal with real hoop snakes, not imaginary ones. I am holding out for a photograph of a hoop snake.

Source
 

Mighty_Emperor

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Seems to be a widespread legend across the southern US:

naturalhistorymag.com/editors_pick/ ... _pick.html
Link is dead. The MIA webpage (an extensive essay on hoop snake mythology) can be accessed via the Wayback Machine:
https://web.archive.org/web/2006062...torymag.com/editors_pick/1925_01-02_pick.html


www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_084.html

americanfolklore.net/folktales/pa.html
Link is obsolete. The current link is:
https://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/08/hoop_snakes.html


coloherp.org/cb-news/Vol-28/cbn- ... Snake.html
Link and website are dead. The MIA webpage can be retrieved from the Wayback Machine:
https://web.archive.org/web/2005021...rp.org/cb-news/Vol-28/cbn-0104/HoopSnake.html
 
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marslight

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Yeah...that, and the jackalope.
 

oll_lewis

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I wouldn't think that the hoop snake is a new species of snake, rather that it is just a clever way for a snake to move to a shady spot if the groud is very hot (the bits of the snake off the ground are given a little bit of cooling off time) it also provides the advantage of the hot mid-day sun shineing on less of the snake so it makes sense that a snake would move in such a way.
 

RainyOcean

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Not QUITE the same thing, but..........

Corn snake page

Sorry about the long link, I can't figure out how to do that thing where you attatch the link to a word. Also, the pic I am referring to is at the top of the page, however if you scroll down more than half the way there you will find the pic again and if you click on this one it can be made bigger.

[edit- I've added tags to Rainy's loooong link
Q]
 

James_H

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Watched a video about black mambas in South Africa and the snake-handler mentioned this legend, which applies locally. I reached out to him but he didn't have any more info.

There was a great article in FT a while back about hoop snakes in Sweden. Does anyone remember what they're called there?
 

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Mikefule

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I remember reading a story when I was a child. The protagonist, a young gullible kid went to live in a rural area (America? Australia?) and a wizened old chap told him about the hoop snake. As a child, I took a long time to understand the difference between true stories and fictional stories, and because the "wizened old chap" had said it, I thought it must be true.

Question 1: If a snake takes its own tail in its mouth to make a hoop (assuming it is able to do so) how does it then propel itself? There seems to be some breach of Newton's laws here. What is pushing against what to make the hoop roll at any speed, let alone 60 mph?

Question 2: If a snake is rolling along with its on tail in its mouth, how does it steer, maintain balance? It would surely be dizzy and everything would be a blur. Not the best way to hunt.

Question 3: If someone saw an image of the worm Ouroboros (symbolic snake with its tail in its mouth) how big a leap of imagination would it be to joke about it rolling along?
 
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EnolaGaia

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Here's another question / issue ...

One of the standard characteristics of a roll-able hoop (e.g., barrel hoop; hula hoop) is that it is stiff enough to maintain its circular shape as it rolls.

Snakes have remarkably flexible spines - hence their ability to squirm and slither most any way imaginable.

How, then, could a snake render its spine rigid enough to create and maintain a rigid hoop shape - especially while rolling and bouncing across solid ground / terrain?
 

gordonrutter

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Here's another question / issue ...

One of the standard characteristics of a roll-able hoop (e.g., barrel hoop; hula hoop) is that it is stiff enough to maintain its circular shape as it rolls.

Snakes have remarkably flexible spines - hence their ability to squirm and slither most any way imaginable.

How, then, could a snake render its spine rigid enough to create and maintain a rigid hoop shape - especially while rolling and bouncing across solid ground / terrain?
From observation of my pet snake Bob he can hold his spine rigid enough to rise up about a quarter of his body length. And from when he wraps himself around my arm his muscles are incredibly strong.
68FFF3CB-231D-4534-9270-B2C118D0DF16.jpeg
 

hunck

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You non-believers & pooh-poohers.. *shakes head*
 

EnolaGaia

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From observation of my pet snake Bob he can hold his spine rigid enough to rise up about a quarter of his body length. And from when he wraps himself around my arm his muscles are incredibly strong.

But can he configure himself as a rigid loop / hoop?
 

hunck

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They need the intervention of a squatch or yowie to bowl them along at speed once formed into a hoop. They're incapable of reaching high speeds left to their own devices but they can keep it going once in motion.
 

James_H

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Question 1: If a snake takes its own tail in its mouth to make a hoop (assuming it is able to do so) how does it then propel itself? There seems to be some breach of Newton's laws here. What is pushing against what to make the hoop roll at any speed, let alone 60 mph?
Gravity - it's going down a hill
How, then, could a snake render its spine rigid enough to create and maintain a rigid hoop shape - especially while rolling and bouncing across solid ground / terrain?
I can't quite find the right picture but I've seen video of a paradise tree snake balancing almost the whole of its body on the tip of its tail; snakes can have tremendous strength.

MALASIA-INDONESIA-2009-0189.jpg
 

EnolaGaia

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We can add Japan to the places where a 'rolling hoop snake' is cited in folklore. In this case, the capability is attributed to the snake-like Tsuchinoko.

The Tsuchinoko (Snake-Like Creature; Japan)
https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/the-tsuchinoko-snake-like-creature-japan.14669/

The Tsuchinoko is noted as having some peculiar ways of getting around. It is reported to move ahead in a straight line, spine undulating up and down as it goes rather than the side to side undulations seen in most other snakes. The snake is also famous for making spectacular leaps of up to a few meters, often leaping along in one enormous hop after another. Even more bizarre than this are some stories that describe the Tsuchinoko putting its tail in it mouth and rolling along like a wheel, or even tumbling along end over end. They are also supposedly good swimmers that are very fond of water.
(Emphasis Added)
SOURCE:
https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015...e8KAtvrvntpksZBO6HaF0OVq78-fEMxJmxQXxM58ide58
 

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Recently snakes in Guam were filmed climbing trees by forming themselves into a lasso shape. This was an unknown form of locomotion, which makes hoop snakes seem a bit likelier.
 

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Krepostnoi

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But can he configure himself as a rigid loop / hoop?
To what extent would the whole hoop need to be rigid? I could imagine that a certain amount of muscular contraction/expansion in the portion contacting the ground is really all the snake needs. Momentum could conceivably keep the remaining body parts in the right position. On top of which, this may allow for shock absorption - vehicular suspension systems (in which, in this context, I include tyre pressure) are not inflexibly rigid.
Question 1: If a snake takes its own tail in its mouth to make a hoop (assuming it is able to do so) how does it then propel itself? There seems to be some breach of Newton's laws here. What is pushing against what to make the hoop roll at any speed, let alone 60 mph?
See above: the body sections in contact with the ground (although I grant 60mph seems implausibly quick).
Question 2: If a snake is rolling along with its on tail in its mouth, how does it steer, maintain balance? It would surely be dizzy and everything would be a blur. Not the best way to hunt.
Is hunting the only reason a snake may have for moving?
 

Krepostnoi

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Ouroboros comes to mind ever lasting. also there a dessert spiders that fast wheel in a very similar way.
Every so often I remember about that spider, and have to seek visual evidence to reassure me that I haven't imagined it. Same with young iguanas "walking" on water.
 

EnolaGaia

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To what extent would the whole hoop need to be rigid? I could imagine that a certain amount of muscular contraction/expansion in the portion contacting the ground is really all the snake needs. Momentum could conceivably keep the remaining body parts in the right position. On top of which, this may allow for shock absorption - vehicular suspension systems (in which, in this context, I include tyre pressure) are not inflexibly rigid. ...

Assuming I understand you correctly ... Yes, I can see how a looped figure might move without doing so as a rigid circular ring. It would be more like a lurching flat tire than a circular hoop.

It also strikes me that muscular action in the portion of the body contacting the ground might not be the 'motive force' moving the looped snake forward. It seems to me it might be possible for the ground-contacting portion to be relatively static (merely serving as a transient base) while some action (e.g., a pulse along the necessarily-stiffened lifted portion) served to propel the loop forward.
 

EnolaGaia

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Another random thought ... I wonder if the stories about rolling snakes originated with snakes tumbling along rather than rolling. I've witnessed snakes rapidly moving (e.g., retreating atop a log) and jumping off an elevated edge to tumble through the air before landing on the ground below and scurrying off. In some cases the snake's falling body squirmed into the form of a tangle that might insinuate a loop while it was tumbling through the air.
 
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