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There’s catching a snake. Then there’s CATCHING a snake.
Sunday afternoon, Derrick Bailey, who comes from South Georgia snake-catching royalty, caught an enormous eastern diamondback rattlesnake in Coffee County. And it’s all on video.
A few weeks ago, one of Derrick’s sisters reported seeing a big rattlesnake near her back door. Derrick headed over but the snake had gotten away before he arrived. She knew exactly what she had seen and she knew it was a giant.
The snake stayed out of sight until Derrick found it crossing a road. Judging from its size, he believes it’s the same one. He had a bag ready and a hook. However, instead of scooping it up with the hook and wrestling it into the bag, he decided to pick it up.
Skilled snake catchers make this look easy. But that’s not the case. Big rattlesnakes are strong and they don’t take kindly to being picked up. They open their mouths and twist from side to side. They don’t have to hit you with a full-on bite; a small nick in the finger from one fang is enough to serious damage. And a mad snake of that size can inject a large amount of venom through one fang in an instant.
Derrick shows patience and resolve as he wrestles the snake with his free hand while he secures his grip with his other hand. You can tell it’s a big snake as he’s wrestling with it — but only when he finally gains control and stands up can you see just how big the snake really is.
In the past, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes would routinely top six feet and approach seven feet or more. Those days, however, are over. A six foot rattlesnake is almost unheard of (dead snakes don’t count; snakes are longer dead than alive) and ones larger than that don’t exist in the wild anymore. This one is about as big a rattlesnake as you’ll see. When Derrick drops it in the bag, you can see the snake is about as long as he is tall.
Derrick’s grandfather and father caught rattlesnakes for decades in South Georgia. Visitors to the Bailey house needed to be vigilant — it wasn’t uncommon to find rattlesnakes in boxes under beds, couches, and in just about every nook and cranny. Derrick is continuing the family tradition. This snake was unharmed and remains alive.
Rattlesnake encounters will likely increase over the next few months — assuming temperatures begin to cool off. Through the fall months, rattlesnakes are particularly active — cool mornings and warmer afternoons keeps them on the go. If you’re in the outdoors, keep your eyes open for snakes. And if you see one, don’t try to do what Derrick did here. The best thing to do is just leave it alone.
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