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“The Most Hideously Frightful Monster That Ever Confronted Mortal Man”

In the late 1800s, a Frenchman named Raud made a truly extraordinary statement regarding a monstrous snake seen in the California countryside, earlier in that very same year, and which was estimated to have an overall length of around forty-feet. Despite the controversial nature of the story, it was supported by his friend and colleague, F.C. Buylick – both of whom were cutting wood and burning charcoal when the immense creature loomed into view. Raud, who broke off from the wood-cutting to pursue nothing more threatening than a hare, said the following of the beast, which appeared to dwell deep in the woods, swamps, and fields of the area:

“I had proceeded twenty-five yards, perhaps, when I emerged into an open space not to exceed thirty feet in diameter. As I entered it the hare dragged itself into the brush on the opposite side, and I quickened my steps in pursuit. Almost at the same instant I was startled by a loud, shrill, prolonged hiss, a sound that closely resembled the escape of steam from the cylinder of a locomotive when starting a heavy train. I stopped as suddenly as if my progress had been arrested by a rifle bullet, and looking toward the upper end of the plat my eyes encountered an object the recollection of which even now makes me shiver with horror.

“Coiled up not more than twenty feet from where I stood was an immense serpent – the most hideously frightful monster that ever confronted mortal man. It was a moment before my dazed senses could comprehend the dreadful peril that threatened me. As the truth of my terrible situation dawned upon me, my first impulse was to fly; but not a limb or muscle moved in obedience to the effort of my will. I was as incapable of motion as if I had been hewn in marble: I essayed to cry for help but the effort at articulation died away in a gurgling sound upon my lips.

“The serpent lay in three great coils, its head, and some ten feet of its body projecting above, swaying to and fro in undulatory [sic] sinuous, wavy convulsions, like the tentacles of an octopus in the swift current of an ebbing tide. The monster stared at me with its great, hateful, lidless eyes, ever and anon darting its head menacingly in my direction, thrusting out its forked tongue, and emitting hisses so vehemently that I felt its baleful breath upon my cheek. Arching its neck the serpent would dilate its immense jaws until its head would measure at least eighteen inches across, then dart toward me, distending its mouth and exhibiting its great hooked fangs that looked like the talons of a vulture.

“As I stood in momentary expectation of feeling the tusks and being crushed in the constricting fold of the scaly monster, my situation was appalling beyond description – beyond the conception of the most vivid imagination. The blood ran down my back cold as Greenland ice and congealed in my veins. Every pulse in my body seemed to stand still and my heart ceased to beat. Even respiration was slow and painful. There was a choking, suffocating sensation in my throat, and my lips became dry and parched. There was a ringing in my ears, dark spots floated before my eyes, and I should have fainted but for the horrifying reflection that if I gave way to such weakness my doom was inevitable. A cold clammy perspiration oozed from every pore, and so intense was my agony of fear that I suffered the tortures of the damned augmented a thousand fold. While all my physical capacities were prostrated and paralyzed, every mental faculty seemed preternaturally sharpened. It appeared as if the terrible tension of my nerve and bodily incapacity immeasurably increased my range of vision, and rendered my perceptive faculties critically acute.

“Not the slightest movement of the serpent escaped me, and every detail of its appearance -size, color, shape and position – is, alas! Only too strongly photographed upon my recollection. As I stated before, the serpent lay in three immense coils, the triple thicknesses of its body standing as high as my shoulders. The monster was fully twenty inches in diameter in the largest place. Its head was comparatively large. Its tremendous jaws that at times dilated to twice their natural size, having enormous hooked fangs that fitted in between each other when the mouth was shut. The neck was slender and tapering. The belly of the serpent was a dirty whitish color, deeply furrowed with transverse corrugations. With the exception of about ten feet of the neck and contiguous parts which were nearly black, the body of the snake was brown, beautifully mottled with orange-colored spots on the back. How long I confronted this terrible shape I do not know. Probably only a few moments; but to me it seemed ages.

“At length the serpent began slowly to uncoil, but whether for the purpose of attacking me or retreating I could not fathom. You can have but a faint conception of my relief and joy when I discovered that it was the latter. Lowering its crest and giving vent to a venomous hiss, the monster went slowly crashing, through the chaparral, its head being plainly visible above the jungle. For a moment I could scarcely realize that I was no longer threatened by a death too horrible to contemplate.

“There was a tingling sensation through my body from the top of my head to the soles of my feet as the blood again commenced circulating in my veins. I attempted to step forward, but so benumbed were my limbs that I fell heavily to the earth. Recovering, I staggered through the chaparral into the open country. As I emerged from the thicket I saw my partner a short distance up the ridge and motioned him to approach. When he did so he was greatly alarmed at my haggard appearance, and excitedly inquired the cause. In reply I pointed to the serpent, then some 100 yards distant- a sight that threw him into the utmost consternation. We watched the monster until it disappeared from view in the rocky recesses of a cliff that overhangs the river. We were enabled to measure the length of the serpent very exactly by its passing parallel with two trees, its head being even with one while its tail reached the other. Mr Buylick has since ascertained that the trees are forty feet apart.”

While this story is undeniably sensational, it is a fact that in the distant past massive snakes did indeed exist. Take, for example, Titanoboa, a huge snake that reached close to 50-feet in length and weighed in at around 2,500 pounds. Although its territory was Colombia, and it went extinct millions of years ago, just perhaps there may have been an American equivalent that lived until the early 1800s – as the story above suggests.

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  • Ted

    Its probably a hoax.. boas dont have fangs..or any constrictors or retics for that matter.

  • Zeek Wolfe

    California is one hundred thousand square miles. About where did this snake sighting occur?

  • Eric Lucas

    Sounds like an Anaconda. The “fangs” as Ted mentions were probably the teeth which Anacondas have for holding prey. The description should be viewed from the point of view of someone living in that era who would have had primitive views of wildlife and the description would reflect such. To someone in the 1800s the teeth of any animal would be described as fangs. The description also mentions that the fangs were hooked and interlocked. This sounds an awful lot like the teeth of an Anaconda. The teeth being hooked so prey can be swallowed, but have a hard time escaping the grip. The color also matches the dark brown and yellow coloration of an Anaconda. Could it have been one that traveled up the coast somehow? An escaped zoo exhibit? Maybe it even hitched a ride on a sailing vessel? The length could be an exaggeration as the length was based on it passing by two trees. If it were in front of them it would appear larger. This is more plausible than calling it an out right hoax just based on the author’s wording being taken out of context.

  • Ted

    Good point Eric.

  • Bear1000

    Tales of gigantic-sized snakes are probably some of the scariest cryptid animal reports, simply because the idea of encountering something is enough to cause anyone to have a phobia of snakes!

  • jamesrav

    exactly. Where is the original account of this, since it must provide more details. Maybe in the 1800’s people (readers) didn’t know much about California, so the idea of “swamps” wouldn’t be viewed skeptically. But the concept of ‘swamp’ (like we equate with South America) in California is a stretch. Plus there’s just too much flowery language for a relatively brief sighting. There is no explanation based on what we know, so either it’s a just a good tall-tale, or some type of time-traveler snake from millions of years ago showed up.

  • Justan American

    Fairly certain he met a lagoon. Ventura County in the Oxnard plains area was a swampy area until drainage ditches were constructed and drained it. The now dry land is very fertile and produces four crops a year..

  • tecumseh eaglefeather

    One should not be so quick to dismiss such reports nor to judge the eloquence in which their told(or lack there of).These reported creatures are extremely intelligent apex predators,that surpisingly still exist,however rare their sightings may be.,Truth is always stranger than fiction,folks,so just because you haven’t seen one doesn’t mean they are the figment of one’s over active imagination.Believe this,the bogeyman is very real and can come in all forms,including that of gigantic reptiles however far fetched it might seem to the uninitiated…

  • Redgie

    Didn’t know LSD was available
    in the 1880’s

  • jamie brown

    blind Freddy,can see this guy considers himself a writer,so we have a frustrated writer now reduced to a farm labourer,im thinking this is a attempt to remedy that deplorable[to him] situation