Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 18th, 2009
Do “flying snakes” exist? Roy Mackal and other cryptozoologists have investigated flying snake reports in Africa. Did you know there are files on airborne serpentine reptiles in North America? Here are four for your consideration. You will rapidly discover that there are varying levels of credibility in these articles. ~ Loren
Galveston Daily News
May 23, 1899
Has a Skull Like an Adder and a Bat-Like Expression.
New York Journal.
A flying snake five feet long has built its nest in one of the tall trees at Waterford, N.J., and when it is not setting on its eggs to hatch out a lot more flying snakes it is roving about intimidating the natives.
No amount of hunting in mere natural history books will reward the searcher with a glimpse of a picture of a flying snake or any information about one. The creature does not exist in any scientific work. It is found only in Waterford, where a party of indignant citizens are making a desperate effort to locate it before it eats some of the farmers.
Robert McDougall, who saw the flying snake, is perhaps the most prominent citizen of Waterford – a fact that the intelligent reader has already guessed, for persons who see sea serpents, flying snakes, wild men, or horned gazoozas are invariably described by their neighbors as prominent in order that the story may not be doubted and the town thereby indirectly reflected upon.
This gentleman was taking a short trip through the woods, cogitating as he walked as to the turnip crop, when suddenly the flying snake darted from the low branch of a [illegible] pine tree and flapped its wings with hoarse cries until it vanished from view. Its bearing was plainly vindictive.
“It had the look of a bat in its face,” says McDougall, “but it was a flying snake sure enough; one of the venomous kind, I should say. Its skull resembled that of a puff adder, but it had no hair, and it had a tapering tail and eyes that flashed fire, but never before did I see eyes on a monster like that,” and Mr. McDougall shuddered at his narrow escape.
On the following morning the Waterford vigilantes armed themselves and repaired to the lair of the flying snake. They found its footprints, not in the air, where it might be expected that a snake on the fly would leave them, but on the ground. They were web-like prints, something like those of a swan. The local indignation increased when it was thereby proved that the monster is amphibian.
Hiram Beechwood, who lives at a place called Elm, says he saw the flying snake at daybreak crossing a road near a swamp. As soon as it noticed it was observed[,] it exchanged looks of deadly hate with him and then, uttering an angry bleat like an exasperated sheep, unwound a pair of bat-like wings and slowly flew into the swamp, where it is feared it has a nestful of eggs.
According to the ornithologists of the place, flying snakes are an established fact. They stick pretty closely to the thick undergrowth unless driven out by forest fires or lack of food. They build in tall trees, Mr. McDougall says, and when in a good temper utter a note something like that of a robin who has just found a worm. When annoyed or frightened, however, they emit an angry scream that is very terrifying.
Some of the residents hold that the snake is a vegetarian and won’t eat Jerseymen. Others wisely say that this may be so, but still it might bite them, and they are going after it to put it out of its misery.
March 25, 1885
A flying snake is on exhibition at Virginia City, Nevada. The reptile is four feet long and has two wings attached to its body, about four inches back of the head.
Greenville Evening Record
June 16, 1900
Venango county papers note the appearance of a flying snake and also a leathered snake. The latter was captured by Arthur Savage, of Canal township, and is said to have a fine coat of feathers and a head like a chicken. It is about three feet in length. It eats nothing but grain and drinks an abundance of water. Mr. Savage intends to take it to some zoological garden.
Alton Evening Telegraph
August 9, 1905
The moonshine whiskey business appears to be flourishing in Missouri. At least flying snakes are reported in several places in the Ozark Mountains region.
Thanks to Jerome Clark for archival input.
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