“Slight movement” below a popular nature trail in north Georgia stopped a pair of joggers in their tracks. But what was it?
Snakes, lots of snakes, said Lydia du Preez.
Du Preez and her husband were on the Big Creek Greenway near Cumming when they spotted the serpents slithering and coiling around each other among branches below the Bethelview Road Trailhead bridge on May 6.
That’s when she pulled out her cell phone and started recording.
“There were literally dozens of them slithering around in the swampy area below the bridge in the debris,” du Preez told Storyful. “It looked as if the ground was moving!”
Some of the snakes could be seen piled on top of each other while others blended in seamlessly among the branches.
“They are everywhere,” du Preez says in the video. “I’ve never seen this many snakes together in one area, in one spot.”
Daniel Sollenberger, a senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Conservation Section, identified the serpents as Midland water snakes.
They’re a subspecies of the northern water snake commonly found across the U.S. and typically feed on fish, frogs, tadpoles and other small water creatures, Sollenberger told McClatchy News. They’re non-venomous and pose no threat to humans.
Though the sight may be shocking, he said it’s not uncommon to see congregations of water snakes out at this time of year. The warm weather and brambly conditions under the bridge also make it the perfect spot for basking.
“They like to have places where they can be out in the sun in the springtime and warm up,” Sollenberger said,. “There’s also a lot of cover there for them, so it’s a place they can feel safe away from predators because they have all those branches to hide in.”
Sollenberger added that sometimes a large number of water snakes will entangle themselves among one another as smaller male snakes “jockey for a position” to mate with the larger female snakes.
But that’s not what was happening here.
“They’re just basking, out doing their thing,” he said. “Just warming up on a pretty day.”