Claim:   Photograph shows a 50-lb. rattlesnake caught in Clay County, West Virginia in June 2005.

Status:   Real photo; inaccurate description.

Examples:   [Collected on the Internet, 2005]

This Rattlesnake was caught in Clay County, WV on 5-21-05. It weighed over 50 IBS and was 8′ long. Rumers of this snake filtered through our community for the last month, then this pic was found on clay County’s web site. A shiver goes up my spine just looking at it.

Well, this would be an unpleasent surprise!!! Here is the news release that came in to me just the other day: Rattlesnake! 114 POUNDS FOUND AT FOLA COAL IN CLAY COUNTY 2 WEEKS AGO

I have to note that this is about 30 miles due east of the State Capitol here in West Virginia. Nothing to do with politics, I am sure, but this is one big snake, so much for so called records from the West!


Variations:   Some October 2005 forwards of the photo include a text description that details the finding of a “Big Timber Rattler” “near an open path” in Potter County, PA, “2 weeks ago” by “Phillip Bowman.”

Origins:   There were several reasons to doubt the origins of the photograph displayed above matched the description that accompanied it on the Internet:

  • The snake pictured is a western diamondback rattler, a species that does not live east of the Mississippi River.
  • The apparent size of the reptile is exaggerated in the photograph because a stick is being used to position it much closer to the camera’s lens than the men standing behind it are. An 8-foot, 10-lb. diamondback rattler is considered a giant for that species, so the snake pictured probably weighs no more than that.
  • Fola Coal Co. vice-president Keith Bartley has fielded many an inquiry about this image, stating: “It’s unequivocally not ours. It’s a false story. There is no truth to it whatsoever.”

According to the Stephenville (Texas) Empire-Tribune, the snake was actually an 6-foot, 11-pound rattler snared by three hunters (Jim Bob Basham, Danny Fincannon, and Johnny McClatchy) in the Lone Star State in February 2005:

The Great Rattlesnake Hunter from Proctor has been out looking under rocks again, this time near Alexander. On Valentine’s Day Jim Bob Basham, holding the snake, and his fellow hunters, Danny Fincannon and Johnny McClatchy of Dublin, uncovered a din of rattlers that yielded this monster. This snake is even bigger than the one Basham caught last November that made its rounds on the Internet. Big Charlie here is more than 6 feet (an exact measurement was not attempted) and weighs 11 pounds. He boasts 15 rattlers and a button. He was sharing the den with 11 other rattlers that were all caught alive.

Last updated:   24 October 2005


  Sources Sources:

    Smith, Vicki.   “Some Rattled by Photo of Giant W.Va. Snake.”

    Associated Press.   7 July 2005.

    Stephenville Empire-Tribune.

    18 February 2005.