If it’s possible to embarrass a snake, Congaree National Park in South Carolina may have done it this fall on Facebook.
The unintended transgression happened when park staff posted a photo some might call unflattering, along with a challenge.
“Do you see the snake?” the park wrote. “It’s easy to walk right by without noticing.”
Not in this case, however.
If the snake was trying to blend into the forest canopy, it was doing a really bad job. The photo shows it was spooled out like a python along a limb that was thin by comparison.
It’s a creepy image, but also funny, leading some Facebook commenters to suggest the snake was too heavy for tree climbing.
“Congaree must be a food-rich environment for snakes,” Jeanie Layer Davis wrote.
“Healthy snake right there!” Charles Manning said.
“He is big! I’ll give him all the space he needs,” Sylvia Jackson posted.
Park officials identified the serpent as an Eastern rat snake, a native species that is nonvenomous, but alarmingly large and prone to bite.
“The Eastern Rat Snake tends to be shy, and ... slow-moving. You might see one on the ground, on the water, or resting on a tree branch,” the park wrote. “If you do see one hiding in the trees, take your photo from a distance!”
Average is 6 feet in length, but the record is about 8.5 feet, according to the Virginia Herpetological Society. The snakes can weigh nearly 5 pounds, too, so one falling from a tree limb could leave a lump on passersby.
Even worse, “rat snakes emit a foul-smelling odor when they feel threatened by a predator. This musk imitates what a poison would taste like,” the National Wildlife Federation says.
The species is abundant in 15,269-acre Congaree National Park, about 15 miles southeast of Columbia.
Congaree National Park is “the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States,” which makes it like Disneyland to snakes.