Is This Picture of a Snake in a Shoe Real?

This is the latest picture to be passed around social media to milk reactions from the snake-fearful. Yes, it is a real photograph, but the details you’ve read are probably way off. 

I first saw this photo in a local community group here in Phoenix, Arizona, where it was quickly misidentified as a Gophersnake. It showed up on another soon after, misidentified as a rattlesnake. It’s since been appearing all over the internet, with more misleading information placing it in many states across the country, and even overseas.

What is it and where is it from?

This is not from Arizona (or almost all of those other places). The pattern and smooth, keel-less scales indicate that this is a Ratsnake; a harmless constrictor that is common across much of the mid-to-eastern US. (I’ll work on getting a more specific location by asking some more ratsnake-savvy friends).

“My Uncle Found This”

More interestingly is the social context that this provides, and another peek into the cultural freak-out that happens whenever a snake shows up in unexpected places. When this photo appears, it very often does so with a claim by the poster that this is somehow tied to them directly and personally. This is “their” shoe, or the shoe of their brother, or co-worker, etc. Similar to stories that are passed around of “giant rattlesnakes” that really aren’t, this image seems to be a useful tool for some personality types.

Does snakes really show up in shoes?

Yes. Any place that can be used to hide may be used. This is a good case for keeping your shoes indoors if you live in a place where snakes do and you aren’t a fan of surprise snakes.