A Monster English Snake

The Illustrated London News, August 4, 1855, p. 131.

I apprehend that most of your readers have seen a statement going the round of the newspapers respecting an enormous snake which was found in this neighborhood. We have heard so many apocryphal stories on the subject of snakes, from time to time, that the public may be excused for being somewhat incredulous. I, therefore, think it right to say that I went yesterday to see it, at Mr. Ambrose's, in this town, who has preserved it in excellent condition, and with good taste. For some months reports have been circulated that such a monster was seen occasionally in the high woods, but they passed off unheeded. This snake was found dead under the bar of a gate, which had evidently fallen on it while it was passing under it. It measures nine feet three inches in length, and its largest circumference was fifteen inches. It is the Natrix torquata — the ringed or common snake — and is destitute of poison fangs. It has reached a size which far outstrips all that were ever seen before; at least, so far as I can learn from books. Fleming, in his "British Zoology," gives the usual length as from three to four feet; and he is supported by most authors. I once killed one in Oxfordshire four feet three inches long; and that is the largest I ever fell in with, in those chalky districts, where it is often seen. I trust this Colchester snake will find a place in the Museum of the Zoological Society.

I am, &c., James M. Churchill

Author of "Medical Botany and Vegetable Toxicology"