Jonathan and Jessica Hotham were on a 14-hour fishing trip at Cleveland Lake when they saw the Eastern massasauga rattlesnake -- Michigan’s only venomous snake -- going through the water.
“I was looking for a new spot to fish, all the sudden I see a snake cutting through the water,” Jessica explained in an Instagram post about the sighting. “I had no idea it would be such a rare and beautiful snake.”
She went on to explain that Jonathan caught the snake in a net before it could get on her kayak.
That was when he realized it was an Eastern massasauga rattlesnake, he told Michigan Live, based on its hiss, the shape of its head and its narrow neck.
Jonathan estimated the snake was between 27 and 29 inches long, the outlet reported.
“Once the snake was in the net he didn't want to go back in the water,” Jessica wrote on Instagram, explaining that her husband moved the snake to his paddle.
Jonathan told Michigan Live that Jessica was “a bit concerned” as she took pictures.
“I was stoked. I was super excited to have a close encounter with an endangered animal,” he told the outlet.
“It was the calmest snake I’ve ever interacted with,” he explained. “He was totally happy just sitting there and being out of the water. He didn’t try to come toward me, didn’t try to get off of the paddle, he was just totally chill.”
Eventually, Jessica explained on social media, the couple got to shore where they let the snake go.
“It was a memory I'll never forget!” she wrote.
According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNC), the Eastern massasauga rattlesnake is the state’s only venomous snake. It is also considered a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because of the loss and fragmentation of its habitat.
The snake also has populations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.