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Why did the snake cross the road? Who knows, but Virginia cops stopped traffic for it

A video shows Roanoke, Virginia police diverting traffic to allow an endangered timber rattlesnake to cross the road. Some on social media questioned the wisdom of impeding traffic for a snake, while others praised the officers.
A video shows Roanoke, Virginia police diverting traffic to allow an endangered timber rattlesnake to cross the road. Some on social media questioned the wisdom of impeding traffic for a snake, while others praised the officers. Facebook video/Screenshot

Drivers traveling in Roanoke, Virginia, on Tuesday morning might have come across a brief delay when they got to Franklin Road. But it wasn't a crash or breakdown causing the slowdown — it was a snake slithering across the road with a place to be.

Police pulled up and diverted traffic to allow the snake to cross the busy intersection, according to WSET.

A video of the crossing was shot by WFIR’ producer Randy Leftwich and shared to Facebook and with other news outlets, according to the station. The video shows two officers blocking one lane and directing cars to go around the snake, which can just barely be seen wiggling across the asphalt.

"I thought it was a turtle at first. When I saw the snake I thought cops get such a bad rap these days, here are two officers helping out an animal," Leftwich told CBS News.

It wasn't just any animal. According to a Facebook post from the Roanoke police, it was actually an endangered timber rattlesnake, and so it was illegal to kill in Virginia. In fact, it is illegal to kill any snakes in Virginia unless they prove to be an immediate threat to humans, according to WSET.

"Now that we’re entering the summer months, we’d like to remind everyone to watch out for snakes and other potentially dangerous wildlife. The summer heat, roadwork and construction can cause snakes to become more active and seek out alternate locations. This snake was on Franklin Road earlier today and our Animal Wardens moved it to safety," police wrote, sharing pictures of the reptile.

"Snakes are an important part of our ecosystem, and we want to remind citizens to leave them alone while they’re out and about this season," police said.

Many commenters on Leftwich's video praised the officers for helping save a life, no matter how small.

Many others, however, questioned the wisdom of stopping traffic on a busy road for a snake.

Farmer Rick Ellis was attempting to figure out who stole one of his chicken’s eggs when he almost drove his motorized farm cart right over the culprit: A sneaky snake.

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