Most people wouldn’t be happy to see a massive rattlesnake snake slithering in front of them on a bike path.
But Duane Langlie said he was actually excited when the 5-foot eastern diamondback rattlesnake appeared just a few feet in front of him on Hunting Island’s Lagoon Trail on Wednesday.
While he said he enjoys taking photos of snakes, he was sure to keep his distance as he stopped to snap a few pictures.
“I was very respectful of the snake and he kindly tolerated me,” Langlie said. “Once I started taking pics, he went back in the pine straw, where he wouldn't feel as vulnerable.”
In most instances, the snake is more afraid of the human than the other way around, Will Dillman, herpetologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, previously told the Island Packet.
Langlie pointed out how well the snake camouflaged himself when he slithered off the path and had this bit of advice:
"Be aware when you're out there!" he said.
How rare are eastern diamondbacks in the Lowcountry?
There are total of 38 snake species that call the Lowcountry home, and the chance of encountering a venomous one is very unlikely, experts say.
Eastern diamondbacks are the largest venomous snake, according to SCDNR, and are most active in the summer and early fall. Coming across one the way Langlie did Wednesday is an exceedingly rare experience.
“It’s a very unusual experience for someone to actually see a diamondback,” Dillman previously told the Island Packet. “It’s really lucky.”
According to the Savannah River Ecology Laborortory, diamondback rattlesnakes can actually swim island-to-island.
“(Eastern diamondbacks) generally avoid wet areas but sometimes live along the edges of swamps,” the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory said. “They are accomplished swimmers and even travel through saltwater to and from barrier islands.”
Dillman told the Island Packet last year that the species is declining.
“It’s a very, very rare snake in South Carolina,” Dillman said. “They’re known to be found all the way up the coast through North Carolina, but now it’s virtually extinct north of the Santee River.”
Last year, an eastern diamondback rattlesnake showed up in the surf on Hilton Head Island and became the subject of a viral video and many national headlines.
What to know about snake bites
In 2017, Coastal Carolina Hospital and Hilton Head Hospital together treated 33 patients for snake bites, according to the the hospitals' spokesperson Katy Waronsky. The year before, that number was 35.
In general, however, snakes pose a very small threat to humans. The best thing to do if you encounter one is keep your distance, Dillman told the Island Packet.
“Trying to move them, poking them to see what they’ll do or when (people) try to kill them is when things go wrong,” he said.
If you are feeling threatened by a venomous snake on your property, SCDNR says you can contact a wildlife removal specialist.
-Ashley Jean Reese contributed to this report.