Living in Texas has its challenges: hot summers, cold winters, dry air, humidity, tornadoes, hurricanes, and that’s not even counting the wildlife. Clearly, the second-largest U.S. state is unforgiving. Still, having a snake fall from the sky and land on your arm is probably the last thing anyone would expect.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened to Peggy Jones on a hot July afternoon. As you can imagine, the moment set off a whole series of unfortunate events.
It happened when Peggy and Wendell Jones were finishing the yard work on an investment property. Peggy was on tractor duty, mowing the lawn, when a hawk accidentally dropped a snake on her arm.
In a panic, Peggy tried to remove the snake, but the snake was equally panicked. It fought back — repeatedly striking at her. The harder she yanked on it, the tighter it wrapped around her arm.
You might think that was crazy enough, but it gets weirder — the hawk came back for its meal!
According to Wendell’s Facebook post, the hawk tried to retrieve its meal. Several times. It made three or four passes at the snake, and poor Peggy’s arm was in the way.
On the last pass, the hawk managed to grab the snake just as it struck at Peggy’s glasses.
After a trip to the emergency room, doctors cleaned up several punctures and lacerations the hawk caused during the incident. She and her husband Wendell said there was some yellowish liquid on her glasses afterward. However, doctors didn’t have it tested, so there’s no way to know whether it was venom. Doctors kept an eye on her blood pressure for a while to make sure there wasn’t an envenomation. She’s since made a full recovery.
Nobody is certain which snake species the hawk dropped on her arm. So there’s no way to know whether it was venomous. Everything happened so quickly that they didn’t have much time to think. However, she said it was an approximately four-and-a-half-foot-long, dark-colored snake.
Was it a Venomous Snake?
Since the snake species is unknown, it’s only a guess as to whether it was venomous. The yellowish liquid on her glasses could have been venom, but it could also have been something else.
However, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume the snake that dropped on her arm was venomous and that it left venom behind on her glasses. That was one huge stroke of luck that it struck her glasses and not her face. Even a mild envenomation there could have had serious repercussions.
The snake would have come from one of four types of venomous snakes living in the Silsbee, Texas, area — rattlesnakes, coral snakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths. Since she said it was four and a half feet long, we can eliminate coral snakes and copperheads. They don’t usually get that long; neither are they typically dark-colored.
So, that leaves us with rattlesnakes or cottonmouths. Both types get that long and can be dark brown in that part of the country, especially the cottonmouth. However, that’s still assuming it was venomous. It could easily have been one of several harmless species also native to the area.
Is it Normal Behavior for Hawks to Drop Snakes?
Surprisingly, yes! Hawks and other birds of prey routinely pick up dangerous prey like snakes and drop them from extreme heights to kill or severely injure the animal before it can hurt them. Some hawks even try to land them on barbed wire for an especially quick death.
There are several birds of prey routinely spotted around Silsbee. They include red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, and broad-winged hawks — all of which use this hunting strategy for dangerous prey.
Of course, it’s equally possible that the snake was feisty enough to force the hawk to drop it.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © ranchorunner/Shutterstock.com
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