This Province in Canada Has LOTS of Snakes

Tens of thousands of red sided garter snakes appear here Narcisse, Manitoba on spring season. It is their annual mating ritual that draws thousands of people to visit the Canadian province.

The area around Narcisse is so attractive to snakes for the same reasons many farmers abandoned it decades ago: Its thin topsoil sits on top of limestone that water has gradually eroded underground, creating a network of small caves that can be entered through sinkholes.
“It is likely the biggest concentration of snakes in the world,” said Prof. Robert T. Mason, a professor of integrative biology at Oregon State University, who has come to Narcisse every spring since 1982.
“It’s amazing to me how many people want to see these snakes,” he said. “They are perfect ambassadors for the reptile world.”
Scientists, including Professor Mason, often do their research at smaller snake pit areas on private land. But Manitoba’s wildlife service has established a park around what it prefers to call snake dens — not “snake pits” — that are the winter home of an estimated 70,000 of the creatures.

Did you just read 70,000 snakes? Yes, you just did.

More details of this hissing story over at The New York Times.

(Image Credit: Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The New York Times)

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Agreed. Had a good time but I feel kinda guilty about it today. I have run across many rattlesnakes in the wild and just let them be. In the backyard, now, that's a different story. When I was in Boy Scouts about 55 years ago, we used to eat fried rattlesnake - flaked like fish and tasted like chicken. And I've had rattlesnake chili at a chili festival. But I never kill snakes without good cause. Last time was when I killed a coral snake in the yard when my son was a young child (he found it).
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Went to rattlesnake roundup in Texas once upon a time. Nice way to be amazed at human skills and enjoy a cold drink. If I remember right, the snakes are raised or caught wild. All are milked for venom and create most of the anti-venom in the US. You loose if you kill a snake.
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