BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - When John Meer went for a ride through Wilkerson Point Park, which is next to Times Beach in Buffalo, he encountered a large snake catching some rays near a metal sculpture.
"It looked anywhere from five- to six-feet long, pretty fat in the middle. Probably bigger than a quarter-sized round, maybe a little bit bigger," Meer said. "I'd never seen a snake that big in New York State before."
The Buffalo Zoo identified the type of snake Thursday morning. The zoo says it was a Northern Water Snake, a snake that is native to the area. The zoo does not believe the snake was brought in and dumped here.
Reptile Keeper Illa Caira explained, "The most commonly seen are garter snakes and water snakes. Water snakes are often mistaken for cottonmouths, so a lot of people think that's what they are. However, [cottonmouths] don't reach the New York State area."
The Northern Water Snake is just one of 17 different species found in the state.
"We can identify them by there markings. Normally they're dark brown to black in color and they have lighter colored blotches throughout the length of their body," Caira said.
The snakes hide between rocks and occasionally come out to warm themselves in the grass. But park officials say the snakes are harmless as long as they are left alone.
One woman we met at the park on Thursday says she's terrified of snakes, but that won't stop her from enjoying Buffalo's waterfront.
"It's beautiful. Look at it! I mean, really, are you going to let a little snake stop you from seeing this?"
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