Reptile and Amphibian Myths


Gray Rat Snake


Myth: A coachwhip snake will whip a person to death with its tail and then stick the tip of its tail up their nose to see if they are still breathing.
Truth: Coachwhips have a long tail that resembles a braided whip.


Myth: A milksnake will milk a cow.
Truth: Milk snakes often enter barns in search of mice and rats. They do not have the necessary mouth structure to milk a cow, nor could they digest milk.


Myth:
A hoop snake will place the end of its tail in its mouth and roll after a person.
Truth: Mud snakes have the habit of lying in a loose coil while basking.



Myth: A snake can hypnotize birds and other prey.
Truth: Snakes have no eyelids, and they never blink. Some species may also move their head from side to side to gain depth perception while hunting.


Myth: The bite from a kingsnake won't kill you, but it will make you sick.
Truth: Non-venomous species have no venom, and other than rare secondary infection they will not make a person ill.


Myth:
A rattlesnake gets a new button on its rattle every year.
Truth: Every time a rattlesnake sheds its skin, a new button is formed on its rattle. Snakes usually shed several times a year.


Myth: A constrictor snake crushes its prey.
Truth: Constrictors kill by suffocation. They do not break bones or smash organs.



Myth: When a snapping turtle bites it will not let go until it thunders.
Truth: Snapping turtles have powerful jaws and often hold on tenaciously. Thunder has nothing to do with when they will let go.


Myth: A toad can give you warts.
Truth: Toad skin has a warty appearance, but human warts are caused by a virus.



Myth: Sprinkling sulfur in your yard will keep snakes from coming near the house.
Truth: There is no evidence to suggest that sulfur will deter snakes.



This fact sheet was produced by the Outreach Program of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.

 

Last review:  October 12, 2007