Because Narcisse is the red-sided garter snake capital of the world, the area is also home to more ravens than anywhere else in Canada; ravens LOVE garter snake livers! They will kill the snake, flip it over & eat just the livers, then leave the rest behind. Ravens kill even more snakes than do cars; in the ditches for quite a long stretch of road around the dens are little, foot high fences designed to channel the snakes away from trying to sun themselves on or cross the treacherous highway.
After coming above ground, the snakes drapes themselves over the rocks to warm up in the sun & prepare to breed; the males emerge first, lay in wait for the females, & then form massive snake mating 'balls' around any female they come across. Snakes are not too choosy... occasionally a male snake will give off a false pheremone to entice the other males to form a 'ball' around him so that he may be warmed faster. Sneaky Snakes!
Once the mating season is over, the snakes go their separate ways, until the fall when they follow scent trails back to the dens to over-winter together & conserve warmth. Interestingly, mama garters give birth to their live babies & keep right on moving! Baby garters do not return to the dens until their second year (finding them by the same scent trails) & will over-winter their first year wherever they can find a likely place (inside bale of hay is common - don't ask me how I know that!); the theory is that the first year snakes actually freeze & then come back to life in Spring like woodfrogs do.
I happily leave the snakes alone to do their much appreciated job of eating things that are far more objectionable to me, like bugs & small rodents.
|Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that the Saint has an entirely different point of view...|