Urban Legends

Snake in the Pants

The Legend

A woman had left the county fair and was driving down the highway outside San Francisco when she felt something brush her leg. Looking down, she saw a large snake crawling into her pants leg. Startled, she flailed her arms, running her car off the road and breaking open the cage of her pet hamster. Frightened, her hamster ran for shelter -- straight up her other pants leg.

The woman jumped from her car and began kicking her legs to try and dislodge the animals and only succeeded in tripping herself. A man driving by saw her fall over and begin writhing on the ground. Thinking she was having an epileptic fit, he pulled over to help.

It didn't take long for the man to realize what was really going on, and he was able to get the woman's pants (with their now completely freaked-out cargo) off of her. The hamster ran out of the pants first, only to be grabbed and quickly devoured by the angry snake. This horrified the poor woman, particularly when she realized that she would have to marry the stranger who had saved her because he'd seen her with her pants off. The man, trying to make the best of the situation, suggested they camp by the side of the road by the night. He caught the snake, cooked it over a fire, and the two ate it while getting to know each other a little better.

Behind the Legend

This incident took place in 1932. The woman was Byrdie Nichols, an attractive woman who made her living as a "wild woman" with a traveling sideshow. The man was Martin Clive, an itinerant shoe salesman.

The police report describing the incident indicates (in a conservative, indirect manner, this being the 1930s) that Nichols and Clive had intimate relations that night. It also indicates that after the snake ate the hamster and the couple ate the snake, Nichols reverted to her wild-woman ways and killed and ate Clive.

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