Snakes are generally pretty goddamn awesome. Not only are they inherently evil enough to be synonymous with original sin, they can also hurt you in any number of grisly ways. If you don’t fancy dying through the agony of a venomous bite, you could opt instead to have the last thing you hear be your own ribs cracking under the crushing cuddle of a giant boa constrictor. If that doesn’t tickle your pickle then there’s also the possibility of having that venom I mentioned earlier spat directly into your eyes, leaving you to stagger about blind before you wander into traffic or just bumble into a ravine like the stupid sub-Steve Irwin-wannabe sod you are.
And for our platinum club members, there’s one more option, provided you live in one of the choice American habitats of the much-rumoured hoop snake; getting a javelin of poisonous snake rectum forcibly jabbed into your chest by a serpentine cartwheeling bastard doing its best impression of a children’s toy.
If you’re unlucky enough to piss off a hoop snake, it’s best to start running. When it’s in the mood to go a’-skewering, the snake abandons the rubbish wiggly bollocks its cousins opt for and instead grasps its own tail in its mouth. Having successfully done that, it somehow defies all physics and common sense and pops itself up into a vertical hoop before rolling after its prey:
Once the hoop snake gets close enough it releases itself and springs forward arse-first, spearing its target with a poisonous barb at the end of its tail. Legend has it that the only way to escape certain death once a hoop snake is after you is to hide behind a tree, at which point the serpent will impale itself in the wood and you can go on your merry way. This is, of course, assuming that everyone who ever encounters a hoop snake is as fucking retarded as Charlize Theron’s character in Prometheus.
The hoop snake is still occasionally reported in sightings to this day, particularly in the St Croix river valley. It features in the apocryphal Pecos Bill stories of the Old West, although that guy also apparently lassoed a tornado, so any stories about him you should probably take with a fairly hefty pinch of crystal meth. The tall cowboy tales can be disregarded as the original source of the hoop snake story because the local folklore predates them; on top of that, the creature has been reportedly sighted in Australia and Japan as well, where even the drunkest and most exaggerated saloon bullshit-mongery is unlikely to have spread prior to the invention of the telephone.
The spiritual home of the hoop snake does seem to be in the States, where tales of its specific brand of roly-poly murder are particularly endemic. Fed up with the widespread nature of the stories, naturalist Raymond Ditmars even put $10,000 in trust at a New York bank as a challenge to any and all snake-hunters before his death in 1942. The money was supposed to go to the first person who could provide evidence of the hoop snake’s existence, but as yet nobody’s come forward to claim it. I can only assume that this is because none of the hoop snake’s victims were smart enough to figure out that they could just sidestep the fucking thing.