Claim: Photographs show baby copperhead snakes discovered in a potted plant.
Status: Real pictures; inaccurate description.
Examples: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
urban legends involve unexpected, scary encounters with slithery snakes, and the text and pictures reproduced above are somewhat reminiscent of the tale of a young boy on a fishing expedition who mistakes some small venomous snakes for worms (with tragic results).
The lack of any identifying details about when, where, and under what circumstances these
Either way, we can make a few general points about what’s described here:
- It isn’t unusual for snakes (venomous or otherwise) to occasionally turn up in consumer products and packaging (or in the stores that sell them), particularly at outlets that vend imported produce or gardening and nursery supplies (although sometimes such discoveries are more likely attributable to pranksters than to Mother Nature).
- Roughly speaking, only about 5% of the snake species found in the U.S. are venomous, so the average encounter with a snake is unlikely to result in any harm to humans.
Of course, that latter point is of small comfort if one should run across a serpent of the minority venomous variety, as was allegedly the case in the narrative reproduced above, in which the unsuspecting recipient of a gift potted plant supposedly found a couple of baby copperheads. However, the small snakes depicted in these photographs don’t bear the distinctive rust-colored hourglass markings or lemon yellow tails of baby copperheads; they’re members of some other small, relatively harmless species that have been misidentified. Also, baby copperheads could not have come from
“eggs in the holes of the cardboard” that “hatched later,” as copperheads, like many species of venomous snakes, produce eggs that develop and hatch inside the mother’s body until the young are expelled live (i.e., ovoviparous).
Last updated: 31 July 2006