May 19 ‘77
This was bottomland, all the way to Savannah. It was hot, even for
here. I biked more than ninety miles, and my ass was (is) sore. At the
end of that day I happened upon a free park. I was sweaty and tired,
so it was no surprise when I jumped into the river as soon as I got
off my bike. The posted sign said, “Swim at your own risk,” but it
would’ve had to say much more than that to keep me out of the water,
which by the way was fine. When I jumped in the river, a couple of
young kids were just leaving. I stayed in the water for quite awhile.
I even washed my hair (it needed it). I was still swimming when I met
this guy who told me why the “risk” sign was posted. Not because of currents
or things like that, but rather because of the snakes and gators. This
was the place my friend came to catch the snakes that he would then
turn around and sell to Savannah’s Reptile Gardens. He had caught a
cottonmouth and a water rattler that very same day.
He certainly was an interesting fellow. He kept a 17-foot boa
constrictor for a pet. According to him, that was some kind of record.
Four years ago when he bought the snake for $70., it was only four
feet long. At that time, the snake ate two white mice a week. Now, he
eats five to seven rabbits a week, depending on how many my friend can
shoot for him. The rabbits are shoved down the snake’s mouth with a
coat hanger. The big guy is kept in a closet and gets out once in
awhile. But, as might be expected, when my friend shuts the closet
door, the snake gets mad. “I don’t like to be around him when he gets
mad,” said my friend, “but after about five hours of cooling off
time, it’s safe to open the door again.” The 200 lb snake, according
to my friend, was capable of eating a man whole—some pet.