Snake season: Why the snakes are out right now

Snake on a rural road By Tom Fenske/Shutterstock

When you’re closing your cottage up for winter, there are a few things you can expect, like organizing your storage shed and cleaning up your garden. One thing you might not be ready for is a snake slithering along your front lawn—or in the bathroom.

Recently, a young boy in P.E.I. was startled when he walked into a restroom at Brackley Beach and saw a garter snake in a stall. But, don’t be alarmed—it’s normal to see a higher number of snakes around at this time of year.

We can blame it on Canada’s cold weather. Since snakes don’t produce their own body heat and rely on the sun for warmth, they gather together when winter kicks in to hibernate and stay alive.

Fall is the perfect time to start prepping for this phenomenon, which means snakes will be more active and present than usual. Depending on where you live or cottage, you may see them going underground or trying to work their way into soil, rocks, logs, or bedrock fissures.

One fact about snakes (and here are 14 more) is that they need to find a place that doesn’t freeze in order to hibernate—it either has to be far enough underground or close to a man-made structure, such as the foundation of a building. 

In order to find those spots, sometimes a journey is involved. The reptiles around Ojibway Prairie Nature Provincial Reserve in Windsor, Ont., are currently on the move and being noticed, sadly, because they’re being killed. 

The Windsor Essex County Environment Committee recommended temporarily closing two roads in the community due to the high snake traffic. It was reported that between 2015 and 2018, according to Jonathan Choquette, a conservation biologist, 1,243 snakes were found dead on the roads, and that blocking off vehicular traffic would increase survival by up to 50 per cent. 

So, if you’re driving in Windsor, or anywhere else this time of year, drive carefully and be on the lookout for snakes.

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