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Super-size snake sheds skin, samples social media

Wessie the Westbrook, Maine, snake decided to discard its 10-foot-long skin in the woods, and then it discovered Twitter.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read

Sorry, Maine. You sounded like a really nice place to visit, what with your beaches, B&Bs, lighthouses and lobsters. We could even overlook the fact that your native son, Stephen King, seems to be determined to convince everyone in the world you're full of killer clowns, possessed cars, rabid St. Bernards and spooky fog that turns people inside-out. (Well, maybe that last one was "The Simpsons.")

But there's no way to overlook the 10-foot-long (3-meter) snakeskin that police in Westbrook, Maine, photographed and warned their citizens about in a Facebook post.

If you read the Facebook comments, you can see that some are convinced this is a hoax, that a shed snakeskin was planted by someone wanting to freak out the community. (And the thought of someone hauling around a peeled-off skin this size just for a prank is honestly as creepy as the live snake.) Some say a snake's skin stretches as it sheds, so the giant skin could be from a much smaller creature. But the giant snake has a history in Westbrook. In late June, two police officers witnessed a 10-foot-long snake eating a beaver (note how they put "not joking") after that, and even share the snake's new nickname -- a local twist on the Loch Ness Monster's famed label, Wessie.

And this police department social-media person seems like someone you'd want to have a beer with. When asked why the officers didn't take more violent action against the critter, the response was:

"Well Tom, we suppose they didn't have a good shot or perhaps they felt 3:30am wasn't an appropriate time for touching off a 12 gauge across the river at a low light target at a distance of 100+ feet. Neither felt it was appropriate to jump in the water like Crocodile Dundee either although we do aim to please." (Mic drop implied, but not posted, because Tom might need some sunscreen after that epic burn.)

Wessie also has a Twitter account, Wessie P. Thon (for "python"), which has just over 1,700 followers, and whose bio line includes the ominous, "You'll never take me alive, Westbrook PD!" It's also not apologetic for shedding, if that is in fact its skin.

Now a Maine cryptozoologist and retired professor named Loren Coleman has joined the hunt, and he and the Wessie Twitter account are bantering back and forth. It's like if Jaws and Quint were Facebook friends.

What's that we said about never going to Maine? On second thought, they seem like the coolest residents of all nifty fifty United States. Hiss we were there!

(Via The Telegraph)