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The Snakes in the Flower Pot

Netlore Archive: Emailed photos purport to show a nest of baby copperhead snakes found in the bottom of a plastic flower pot purchased at a grocery store.

Description: Viral images, text
Circulating since: June 2006
Status: Undetermined

Email contributed by Carole, July 16, 2006:

Subject: Fwd: Warning to plant lovers

It could happen anywhere............

I almost had a heart attack this week. My son got me a potted plant for my birthday kept it on my kitchen counter the whole time and this week it was warm enough to plant outside so I took it out to plant tried to get it out of pot with no luck so I wet it really good and the plant came out it was in a decorative glass container with no holes in it and had another pot cut and wedged into the glass pot so after i planted the flower I got a knife to get the plastic pot from the glass one had to wedge a knife around the sides to get it out when I did this something moved I told Ron it looked like a snake, so I called my son out he took the liner out to our surprise low and behold not one snake but two baby copper heads.

I almost died been upset since then. when we took the plastic pot from the glass one there was a piece of card board up the side of we think that there must have been eggs in the holes of the card board at the growers and when it got hot they must have hatched out. .

I am sending you pictures. take my advise don't bring plants inside. this could have been really - really bad . This plant was bought at the grocery store. I will not give the name of the store I don't want to ruin there business but will tell you if you ask just don't want to put the name on the news i'm sure it wasn't anything they knew about it's the grower that should be more careful in potting theses plants. I just want to warn you guys not to bring plants inside who know what could be leaking way down under those roots. I am only thankful it was not a plant to be kept inside

Analysis: Scary discovery, but it could have been worse — the snakes could have actually been poisonous copperheads, which, judging from the images, they weren't. According to wildlife experts, baby copperheads are easily identifiable by their yellow tails and the distinctive bow-tie or hourglass pattern down their backs (see photo in Missouri Conservationist magazine).

The snakes pictured in the flower pot above appear to be harmless, garden-variety brown snakes. Still, no one likes finding a snake in their home, harmless or otherwise.

I should note that there have been media reports over the past few years of people actually being bitten by poisonous snakes in the garden departments of home improvement stores. In April 2004, it happened to a man in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. A few months later a woman was reportedly bitten by a rattlesnake in an Oro Valley, Arizona Home Depot store. So it's not a far stretch to imagine one of these critters being carried home in a potted plant.

(A variant of this email states that the photos were taken in Columbus, Mississippi, but we have no way of verifying the accuracy of that claim.)

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Sources and further reading:

Agkistrodon contortrix (American Copperhead)
Wikipedia entry

Baby Copperhead (Image)
Missouri Conservationist Online

Last updated: 12/09/11

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