Clayton Fleener knew this much when a huge rattlesnake motored across a hiking path in front of him on Saturday.
Respect nature, and just let it be.
Well, he also knew this: When a big ol’ venomous snake crosses your path, whip out your cell phone.
Fleener and his girlfriend, Abigail Kerns, were walking along Trail 9 in Brown County State Park in Indiana when the snake crept out in front of them, crossing from one side of the trail to the other.
From a safe distance, Fleener shot video of the scary sight. At one point he turned the camera phone toward himself and proclaimed, “That’s a big snake.”
His mother, Susan Apple of Indianapolis, posted the video to her Facebook page on Monday, where it has been viewed more than 240,000 times since then.
“He grew up in nature,” so he didn’t panic, Apple said of her son, adding that the best advice on reacting to a snake in the wild is to “leave them alone. They don’t like us any better than we like them.”
Fleener told Fox 59 in Indianapolis they had heard a report of a timber rattlesnake near the area and were on the lookout as they hiked. “We weren’t quite ready to see one quite that large, though,” he told the TV station.
He showed the video to park rangers, who marveled that Fleener was able to capture the snake on video because they are typically people- and camera-shy, the Indianapolis Star reported.
Department of Natural Resources officials confirmed the snake was a timber rattlesnake, which are common in the area and also, as an endangered species in Indiana, on the no-kill list.
The snakes tend to be passive and don’t usually attack unless provoked.
“I was stunned, especially because it was so large,” Apple told the Star. “It looked like it had just eaten. I’ve lived in Brown County for 20 years and never saw one.”
The snake probably had places to go and other snakes to see. The end of July and August is their mating season, and males have been known to travel great distances in search of a date.