congo snake

congo snake n

1 also congo: = cottonmouth n. [LaFr (serpent) congo; congo perh in allusion to the snake’s black color (cf congo n1 2)] chiefly sLA

[1803 Berquin-Duvallon Vue Colonie 105 LA, Ensuite viennent les serpens de différentes espèces, dont le Serpent Congo et le Serpent à Sonnettes sont les plus dangereux. [=Next there are snakes of various sorts, of which the Congo snake and the rattlesnake are the most dangerous.] 1828 Paul Wilhelm Reise Nordamerika 27 cLA, Bei genauer Untersuchung fand es sich, daß diese Schlange, welche zu der Ordnung der eigentlichen Vipern gehörte, eine der giftigsten ihres Geschlechtes war. Die Creolen, welche diese Schlange Serpent Congo nennen, fürchten sie ungemein wegen der schnellen Tödtlichkeit ihres Bisses. [=On further investigation it appeared that this snake, which belonged to the class of true vipers, was one of the most venomous of its sort. The Creoles, who call this snake “congo snake,” fear it excessively on account of the swift deadliness of its bite.]] 1839 NY Commercial Advt. (NY) 23 July 2/4 LA, The Congo Snake.This is a venomous reptile. . . It is found, although rarely, among the cane brakes in Louisiana. It seldom exceeds four feet in length—is of a dark rusty color—as large as a man’s arm, and its tail terminates abruptly. 1888 Cable Bonaventure 284 wLA, A large moccasin—not of the dusky kind described in books, but of that yet deadlier black sort, an ell in length, which the swampers call the Congo—came up the anchor-rope. 1891 Lafayette Advt. (LA) 23 May [5]/2, Last week, between here and Cheneyville, he stopped his train to kill an immense “congo” snake, whose bite is deadly poison. . . The snake measured six feet in length and fifteen inches in circumference. . . Further North the negroes call it the “stump-tail, rusty mocassin.” [1931 Read LA French 121, Congo. . . The name Congo is given by most Creoles and Acadians to the poisonous Water Moccasin, or Cotton-Mouth Moccasin (Ancistrodon piscivorous Lacépède); by others to a bluish-black eel-like amphibian (Amphiuma means Garden), which, though quite harmless, is considered deadly by the common folk. Both reptiles are common in Louisiana.] 1933 Shreveport Times (LA) 24 Jan 1/7, His hand struck squarely on a cotton mouth moccasin, most deadly of the south’s venomous snakes, known to trappers as a “Congo.” The snake struck and the fangs squirted poison into his wrist at the base of his thumb. 1947 Chicago Tribune (IL) 21 Dec mag sec 12/5 sLA, “Mocassin [sic] bites, I cuts with knife, like [t]his.” He demonstrates. “Then I pours tobacco in cut. Then I goes quick to doctor.” . . “But the Congo,” he’s a bad one. I dont’ [sic] likes th’ Congo. So far, he don’t catches me.” 1966 Daily Advt. (Lafayette LA) 29 Apr 5/4, The Congo snakes—the local name for the economy size moccasins—are in the midst of the mating season and the poisonous reptiles are very active. 1984 [Clarion–Ledger Jackson Daily News (MS) 15 July sec B 4/4, Snakes like the cottonmouth (water moccasin) smell like a congo weed. That’s why they also call the cottonmouth a congo snake. [DARE Ed: Speaker grew up near Baton Rouge LA]


2 = congo eel n 1. [Presumably from its superficial resemblance to 1 above, and occurrence in the same habitat] chiefly LA, FL, though with some use as a book name

1824 NY Acad. Sci. Annals Lyceum Nat. Hist. 1.269 FL, It [=Amphiuma means] is called in Florida, “Congo Snake” by the negroes, who believe them poisonous, but without foundation. 1835 Audubon Ornith. Biog. 3.90, The Congo snake and the water-moccasin glide before you as they seek to elude your sight. 1878 Royal Microscopical Soc. Jrl. 1.62 sLA, The Amphiuma tridactylum at New Orleans, vulgarly called “congo-eel” or “congo-snake,” belongs to the order Urodela. 1892 IN Dept. Geol. & Nat. Resources Rept. for 1891 421, Amphiuma; Congo-Snake. . . This, like the Siren, appears to be a mud-loving species. 1907 Progressive Farmer (Raleigh NC) 18 Apr 8/1, There are several rather peculiar amphibians found in the Southeastern States that are not very well known. The commonest of these is the Amphiuma which in books is called the Congo Snake, but which is most usually known in the regions where it occurs as Ditch eel, Black Eel, Poison Eel, Lamper Eel, Lampus Eel, or Mud Eel. [1920 Copeia 77.6 cNC, They [=Amphiuma means] are universally feared as poisonous, presumably on account of their snake-like form. . . I have never heard the names “congo eel” or “congo snake” applied to the species.] 1928 Baylor Univ. Museum Contrib. 16.8, Brown Eel is a name used on Suphur River, Texas, and in western Louisiana, to distinguish the Congo Snake from the true (fish) eel. . . The name Congo Snake is itself a folk name which has in time achieved the dignity of a book name. [1931 [see 1 above].] 1994 Sun–Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale FL) 4 Jan sec B 1/1, These amphibians are in danger of extinction as progress encroaches upon their natural habitat: . . One-toed congo snake.