Article of the Day: 5/21/19 A Beautiful Rattlesnake

https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/2019/05/20/vanderbilt-professor-another-rattlesnake-warner-parks-trail-hiking/3740225002/

This is a park just south of Nashville. I have never seen a rattlesnake in Tennessee, but I’ve walked this trail many times in the past. If you go to the link above, there’s a video of the snake. It was completely unconcerned with the people on the trail. I guess that’s the way it is for an apex predator.

Former Vanderbilt quarterback encounters rattlesnake on Warner Parks trail

Mike OrganUpdated 2:34 p.m. CT May 20, 2019

Gary Kimball, a Vanderbilt professor, has happened upon two rattlesnakes while hiking at Warner Parks. Mike Organ, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee

When Gary Kimball played football at Vanderbilt, he got used to running for his life.

He was a quarterback who often found himself having to elude angry linebackers.

Kimball, who played from 1980-84 and is now a Vanderbilt finance professor, still has to watch his step when he hikes the trails at Nashville’s Warner Parks.

Kimball has now twice encountered a rattlesnake on the Mossy Ridge trail.

Vanderbilt professor Gary Kimball and his wife Carroll came upon this 4-foot timber rattlesnake on a hike last week at Warner Parks.

Vanderbilt professor Gary Kimball and his wife Carroll came upon this 4-foot timber rattlesnake on a hike last week at Warner Parks. (Photo: Submitted)

His latest episode came Friday when Kimball and his wife Carroll happened upon a slithery serpent on the trail.

“Carroll was a couple of steps ahead of me and about a step-and-a-half from stepping on (the snake),” Kimball said. “I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back. She didn’t see it. She was looking down and looking for her next step and I just happened to be looking ahead and saw it.”

In 2016 Kimball was setting out on a hike with a buddy when they encountered a rattlesnake in the parking lot at the trailhead.

After his initial scare Kimball gathered himself and videotaped both snakes, which he estimated to be about 4 feet in length.

Timber rattlesnakes are also known as canebrake or banded rattlesnakes. They are venomous.

Chicken snakes are actually harmless, but they can mimic the venomous rattlesnake as a defense mechanism, so it’s good to know some differences between it and what it’s pretending to be. Wochit

The snake the Kimballs found last week was about a mile and a half from the trailhead had 10 or 11 rattles.

It was resting and stretched from one side to the trail to the other. 

“He was very docile. He wasn’t moving a bit and seemed to be minding his own business,” Kimball said. “Eventually I guess he thought better of us standing there and he kind of slithered off. You can see him on the video go up over the log and off into the woods.”

Gary Kimball found this four-foot rattlesnake in the parking lot at the trail head at Warner Parks in 2016.

Gary Kimball found this four-foot rattlesnake in the parking lot at the trail head at Warner Parks in 2016. (Photo: Submitted)

The first snake Kimball encountered reacted differently. It curled into a ball and used its rattle to try to chase Kimball and his friend away.

“He wasn’t happy that we were there,” Kimball said. “This one was different.”

Kimball, who is director of Vanderbilt’s undergraduate business program, hikes four to five times each week, covering a total of about 25 miles.

Timber rattlesnakes are found throughout Tennessee. They prefer remote, rocky, wooded slopes where there are few humans and they are seldom disturbed, according to the Tennessee Herpetological Society.

“They’ve got plenty of dense cover and I guess there’s still enough wildlife in the park that they can make a decent living for themselves,” Kimball said.”

► Snakebite: Spring Hill firefighter in intensive care after rattlesnake bite

Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 or on Twitter @MikeOrganWriter. 

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