The hoop snake (HŪP/snāk) is closely related to the common American pit vipers such as the cottonmouth and copperhead and, like their cousins, produce a potent, toxic venom. A human bitten by a hoop snake experiences symptoms such as severe pain, swelling, weakness, difficulty breathing, hemorrhaging, gangrene, fever, vomiting, and in rare instances, death.
Normally, a hoop snake slithers like other snakes. However, when hunting, it latches onto its own tail and rolls toward its intended prey at speeds reaching up to 40 miles per hour in short bursts. When the hoop snake reaches its prey, it will strike with its mouth or tail as both have venom glands.
Hoop snakes are reticulated and tend to be colored so they blend into the landscape. A mature hoop snake can reach 8 feet in length, which allows them to form a hoop about 2 and a half feet in diameter.
Like other snakes, hoop snakes are ovoviparous, producing eggs that remain in the mother until they hatch. A mother hoop snake in the final stages of holding a brood may refuse to hoop for fear of damaging the eggs. Hoop snakes reproduce as a hoop with the male latching on to the tail of the female and vice versa. The resulting hoop will roll in circles until the mating is concluded.
A newly hatched hoop snake is called a hatchling. A juvenile hoop snake is called a neonate. The collective noun for a group of hoop snakes is a pit.
The hoop snake can be found throuhgout the Americas. They prefer large open areas, such as praries, that make rolling easy.
Hoop snakes are similar to pit vipers with the exception of the stinger with venom sacs on their tails.
Hoop snakes are carnivorous, preferring small mammals as prey. Fully-grown hoop snakes need to feed about once a month.
The venom of the hoop snake can be used in many potions and charms and is used for producing its anti-venom. The stinger of the hoop snake can be attached to a wand to empower offensive spells, though this has been known to make them especially volatile. Hoop snakes can be enchanted to be used as familiars. The bones, scales, and eyes of the hoop snake can be used for assorted potions and charms. Three linked hoop snakes forming interlocking rings can be used for divination.
A human cannot outrun a hoop snake. The most effective defense against hoop snakes is to hide behind a large object, which the hoop snake will invariably strike, or to climb a tree or over a fense. If bitten by a hoop snake, go to the nearest magical healer who can provide an antivenom. Mundane hospitals can also provide antivenom in an emergency; just say that you were bitten by a copperhead.