Maine’s “Wessie The Snake”
Maine is reputed to be the outdoor state. If you love hiking, camping, and boating, then Maine is the state for you. The Pine Tree State is known for its vast forests and is the perfect hiding spot for Bigfoot. So, when it came to researching cryptids, I thought I would find a bigfoot monster.
I didn’t. Maine’s cryptid is ‘Wessie the Snake.” Of all the creatures and monsters I expected to find. A snake wasn’t one of them. I found the featured image of Wessie with Image by neo tam from Pixabay quite cute, and so chose to show that with this article.
Wessie made its first appearance in June 2016. She scared the bejesus out of a woman on that beautiful summer day. The witness claimed Wessie was as large as a truck with a head the size of a basketball. The excitement of such a large snake captured everyone’s interest. The incident quieted down, but soon after, Wessie showed up again in August. This time to police officers pulling a late-night shift.
The Westbrook policemen were doing a routine patrol at the same location as the first sighting. Near the banks of Presumpscot River, Police reported seeing a giant snake. Descriptions were the same, at 10-foot long, with a head the size of a basketball. The police stated that the huge snake was enjoying a beaver for its dinner. It saw the police and slithered into the Presumpscot River, swimming to the other side.
The police, startled, laughed it off, but Wessie the Snake was born. The citizens of Westbrook adopted Wessie and enjoyed hearing her daily exploits. Conversations would begin with, “have you seen Wessie?” People even went Wessie hunting to try and pin down the elusive reptile. There was speculation as to what kind of snake Wessie was.
National Geographic also descended upon the small town of Westbrook in late August 2016. They filmed a documentary and wrote an article about Wessie. They were intrigued by the huge discarded snakeskin found on the Prescumpscot riverbank.
On August 20, 2016, a local was walking along the scenic Presumpscot River when he came across a 12-foot-long snakeskin. Interesting fact, the skin is shed when snakes get bigger. So, if it was Wessie who shed that skin, She has grown to a significant size larger than 12-foot now. That’s a giant snake. The snakeskin was initially thought to belong to a Burmese Python and believed to have been a pet. Once it got too big, the owner released it into the wild.
Discovering the snakeskin was the cherry on top of Wessie sightings. The sightings of a snake not indigenous to Maine captured Westbrook’s imagination. Soon, there were Wessie hunts and Wessie-themed shirts. One local brewing company, Mast Landing Brew Company, made a special-edition beer. The IPA created its Wessie West Coast IPA beer in honor of Westbrook’s slithering cryptid.
What’s even more fascinating is that giant snakes in Maine are not unusual. Loren Coleman is the founder and curator of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine. He has spent most of his life chasing the strange and unusual creatures or cryptids. Coleman follows these creatures to whatever part of the world the hunt takes him.
In his life-long quest, Coleman has built an extensive collection of artifacts. According to Colemen, there have been reports of giant snakes in the towns of Winthrop and Gardiner. The sightings were during the 19th century, with no bodies or snakeskins seen.
Yet, Westbrook fell in love with their cryptid. Sean Lally, the police captain, stated, “It picked up steam with each sighting, and the social media thing has been big.” There have been only four sightings of Wessie so far. That doesn’t stop the locals from hoping for more.
With Wessie’s popularity growing, officials sent a piece of the snakeskin to be Scientifically analyzed. The results surprised everyone. Wessie is an anaconda from South America. How an anaconda made its way to such a cold-weather state like Maine is anyone’s guess. The likely theory is Wessie was a pet that got too big, and the owners released her into the wild.
Curious to know even more about Wessie, John Palcyk from the University of Texas sent the sample to Jesus Rivas. Rivas is an anaconda expert at New Mexico Highlands University. Rivas identified Wessie as a female green anaconda about 10 to 12 years old. Wessie’s genetics placed her original home in either Peru or Bolivia. A long way from home.
There are some thoughts that the skin was someone’s idea of an elaborate hoax—a snakeskin to push the belief that Wessie is real. If Westbrook is Wessie’s right home, then she escaped or was let loose. The citizens of Westbrook didn’t care; they loved the idea of her slithering in the woods.
Rivas doesn’t believe that Wessie was let go by her owners. He thinks because of the age and size, her owners took good care of her. His primary concern was that anacondas are warm weathered creatures. Wessie was going to have a rough time surviving Maine’s extreme winters. Rivas didn’t think Wessie would survive past October that year.
That didn’t stop the locals from hoping she survived. Westbrook started the “Where is Wessie,” which has become part of Maine folklore. The locals keep an eye open for Wessie’s sightings but enjoy the idea of her being in Westbrook. She even has a Twitter account that says, “Wessie P. Thon @WessieThon.” I looked it up, and it is cute.
Wessie’s profile says, “Hanging out in Westbrook, shedding my skin. Hungry. So very hungry. My head is not the size of a soccer ball. You’ll never take me alive, Westbrook PD.” I loved it. Wessie’s most recent post was December 28, 2020. So, someone is keeping up with Wessie’s tweets.
The consensus is poor Wessie didn’t survive the cold winter of Maine. That doesn’t stop the Westbrook citizens from carrying on as is if she did. Wessie is Westbrook’s urban legend and a permanent fixture in their folklore.
If you happen to be driving through Westbrook, stop by the Mast Landing Brew Company. Have a glass of West Coast Wessie brew and listen to the most recent Wessie sighting.
Wessie with Image by neo tam from Pixabay had a short life span from 2016-2017. She might not have survived the winter, but she is alive and well. Living in the hearts of Westbrook’s citizens.
Nice! Wessi was my nickname in high school amd college, so I’m going to have to add Westbrook, ME, to my bucket list! Thank you!