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Why Are There So Many Garter Snakes?

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  • Edited By: A Kaminsky
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Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes, and it ranks as one of the most common phobias among people. On the other end of the spectrum is ophidiophilia, the love of snakes, and it's to that small segment of the population that the Narcisse Snake Dens in Manitoba, Canada must appeal. Every spring, the warm sun arrives, the snow and ice melt, and thousands of garter snakes that have been hibernating in limestone tunnels and crevices awaken. According to Atlas Obscura, the caves have contained as many as 70,000 snakes, all of whom come out of hibernation and immediately take to nearby grasses to procreate. As strange as the sight must seem, tourists come from all over to witness the seasonal swarming of these serpents.

While the snakes are now thriving, there was a time not long ago when their numbers had been greatly depleted by bad weather and automobile traffic. That's when the Narcisse Snake Pits Wildlife Management Area came into being, specifically to save the snakes. In the early 2000s, the group ensured the reptiles' continued procreation by building snake crossings and putting up signs to keep people from interfering. Thanks to those efforts, the slithering should continue for the foreseeable future.

Getting to know garter snakes:

  • A single garter snake can give birth to 80 young snakes in a single litter.

  • While variations occur, most garter snakes have three stripes on their back, with colors including blue, white, green, and yellow.

  • A garter snake's venom is very weak, so it must bite its prey, hang on, and then swallow it whole.

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