Richard Freeman, of the Center for Fortean Zoology, says: "There is no excuse for not getting out into the field and doing firsthand investigations; none at all. In fact, it’s vital. I have no time for the armchair theorist. And one of the experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life was traveling to Thailand with the Discovery Channel in 2000, where we chased giant snakes – the Naga – in the caves and tunnels that exist deep below Thailand. It’s very easy to see why the inhabitants in times past considered them to be dragons. The Naga is apparently a large snake, a very large one – maybe in the order of literally tens of feet in length, oil-drum-sized bodies, and definitely big enough to take a whole man." With that said, let's take a look at some of the most amazing accounts of huge snakes.
In 1868, a Frenchman named Raud made a truly extraordinary statement regarding a monstrous, near-dragon-like 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.
"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." Fortunately, and finally, Raud and Buylick were able to flee the area.
Father Victor Heinz and Father Protesius Frickel had a particularly notable story to tell, as it it revolved around the sighting of a truly colossal monster. Heinz prepared a statement that told the entire, shocking story: "During the great floods of 1922 on May 22 – at about three o’clock to be exact – I was being taken home by canoe on the Amazon from Obidos; suddenly I noticed something surprising in midstream. I distinctly recognized a giant water snake at a distance of some thirty yards. To distinguish it from the sucurijiu, the natives who accompanied me named the reptile, because of its enormous size, sucurijiu gigante (giant boa). Coiled up in two rings the monster drifted quietly and gently downstream. My quaking crew had stopped paddling. Thunderstruck, we all stared at the frightful beast. I reckoned that its body was as thick as an oil drum and that its visible length was some eighty feet. When we were far enough away and my boatmen dared to speak again they said the monster would have crushed us like a box of matches if it had not previously consumed several large capybaras."
And, there is the following account of Reymondo Zima, a Portuguese merchant, who Father Heinz had the good fortune to interview. Zima told the priest: "On 6th July 1930 I was going up the Jamundá in company with my wife and the boy who looks after my motor-boat. Night was falling when we saw a light on the river bank. In the belief it was the house I was looking for I steered towards the light and switched on my searchlight. But then we noticed that the light was charging towards us at an incredible speed. A huge wave lifted the bow of the boat and almost made it capsize. My wife screamed in terror. At the same moment we made out the shape of a giant snake rising out of the water and performing a St. Vitus’s dance around the boat. After which the monster crossed this tributary of the Amazon about half a kilometer wide at fabulous speed, leaving a huge wake, larger than any of the steamboats make at full speed. The waves hit our 13-meter boat with such force that at every moment we were in danger of capsizing. I opened my motor flat out and made for dry land. Owing to the understandable excitement at the time it was not possible for me to reckon the monster’s length. I presume that as a result of a wound the animal lost one eye, since I saw only one light. I think the giant snake must have mistaken our searchlight for the eye of one of his fellow snakes."
A sixty-foot-long, deadly snake roaming around California? It sounds incredible, and yet that is precisely the story that came out of Spring Valley, California in the summer of 1868. The story was told in the pages of the Calaveras Chronicle newspaper, whose staff said: "On the 12th of August, 1868, the serpent was first seen in the vicinity of Zane’s ranch, near Spring valley. Several persons-reputable people-saw the monster on two or three occasions, but always at a considerable distance-never nearer than a quarter of a mile. The reptile created the most intense excitement in the neighborhood, and at one time the getting up of a party to hunt it down was strongly agitated.
"What were then thought to be the most extravagant stories regarding the size of the serpent were told, but recent events prove that the truth was not exaggerated. The snake was seen in an open field in broad daylight, and described as 'being from forty to sixty feet long, and as large around as a barrel.' The mark of the monster in the dust where it crossed the road bore witness to its immense proportions. There was a difference of opinion regarding its method of locomotion, some maintaining that it progressed by drawing itself into immense folds, after the manner of a caterpillar, while others were equally certain that its motion was similar to others of the ophidian family."
True giants? No doubt!