Skip to content

Hoop Snakes

A Pennsylvania Tall Tale 


Now the Pennsylvania hoop snake is something to be reckoned with. It is long, and its colors vary with the type of whisky you’ve been drinking. But everyone agrees that you can tell a hoop snake from a regular snake by the way it moves. When a hoop snake travels around, it grabs its tail (with the poison stinger at the end) in its mouth and rolls along until it sees something it wants to sting. Then it whips the stinger out of its mouth quick enough and lashes out with its tail.

One feller I knew, he was hoeing in his field when a hoop snake came rolling towards him. He ducked behind his hoe, figuring he was a goner, but the snake’s tail hit the hoe instead of him, and there it stuck. Well, he just high-tailed it out of there right quick and headed for home. He knew he had to to wait until dusk to get his hoe. Hoop snakes what get into fights never die before sundown. Sure enough, he went back after sundown, and that hoop snake was as dead as your average doornail. The handle of the hoe was so swollen up with poison that the farmer had it cut up and shingled his barn with it. ‘Course, I happen to know that they all fell off after the first big storm because the rain washed the poison right out of them. But you can’t blame a feller for trying.

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series published by Globe Pequot Press. She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of “let’s pretend” quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children’s Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author.