RE: NANFA-- Alligator and Rattlesnake Photos

Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (
Fri, 1 Nov 2002 15:50:27 -0600

Coincidentally - my wife Dena forwarded this message to me today -

>>>I don't know what or who was your source for these photos but they did
not happen on Corps projects in Louisiana and currently the photographers
are not known.

Because I am a herpetologist, many people have sent me these photos. I have
been aware that at least the snake photo has been circulating for at least 1
year and the alligator photo for about 6 months. Somewhere along the way
they started being circulated together. While cleaning up my "deleted email
box" yesterday, I reconstructed this information. Each time they are
attributed to a different "job site", state or even country and have now
become almost an urban legend. The first time I saw the photos together
(June 2002), they were attributed to a project at Patrick Air Force Base but
I am certain that this was not their origin.

I am not certain the origin of these two photos but I can tell you that at
least the snake photo was not taken in Louisiana. Those particular
rattlesnakes are a Southwestern species (Western Diamondback Rattlesnake)
that do not occur in the southeastern US. It would also be highly unusual
to find a collection of juvenile snakes like that unless they were
intentionally placed there or were trapped (Possibly during a rattlesnake
roundup?). Almost immediately after birth (live birth not eggs) they
disperse because they are competing for a very limited supply of food in a
given area. This species also does not den during winter because it does
not need to seek very serious hibernation shelter. Some snakes in northern
areas of the US will tend to seek the same hibernation shelter which results
in "denning" but that is only because of limited suitable shelter for
hibernation in certain areas. Snake "denning" is actually a rare

In my previous life when I was much more agile, I worked with alligators. I
never saw or knew of any one that appeared that large. It is no doubt really
a large gator, however, I don't think it is really as large as it seems in
the photo. I have not spent any time evaluating the alligator photo but I
would bet it is either a doctored photo or a perception problem because of a
camera angle. We all have accidentally taken bizarre looking photos of
animals that make them look extremely out of proportion because of their
angle and the positioning of the other objects in the photo. The largest
gator on record was 19 ft. It is possible to sometimes find them around
15-16 ft but most seldom get over 12-13 ft. If you used that man standing
behind the gator as a reference and assumed that a man's foot is about 1 ft,
then that gator would be about 25 ft or more. That would be too big even
for fossil records.<<<
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