Wow! The crew and passengers onboard a Hyannis Whale Watcher, off Provincetown, MA were treated to a rare sight last week about a mile and a half north of Race Point, but it wasn’t a shark or unusual whale. It was an Eastern hognose snake, a regular inhabitant of the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, but not usually know for its swimming prowess!
While it is rare for the species to go for a swim, herpetologist Scott Buchanan at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said it’s not unprecedented.
Buchanan dug up four different accounts from his several years of research on the reptile. In 1920 a hognose snake was spotted swimming in the surf along a beach in New Jersey; in 1929 one was seen swimming in a lake in the Palisades Park area of New York and New Jersey; in 1967 a hognose was seen feigning death — a behavior the snakes are known for — in a reservoir in Illinois; and in 1972 one was seen swimming a half-mile offshore in brackish water in the York River in Virginia, he said.
After seeing a photo of the snake, Buchanan said he believes it is a healthy adult female. His best guess is that she went in the water to cool down and either got disoriented and swam away from shore or just got pulled into the current, he said.