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New and Interesting

A Visit to the Narcisse Snake Dens

Narcisse Snake Dens

On May 5, 2014, I visited the Narcisse Snake Dens. Located about a hundred kilometres north of Winnipeg, these dens are the hibernation site of tens of thousands of Red-sided Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis), the prairie subspecies of the Common Garter Snake. When they emerge each spring, they’re something of a tourist attraction, one that gets featured in the Canadian media. I don’t know how many government-supported tourist attractions there are in the world that are dedicated to snakes and snake conservation, but there can’t be many, and this is one of them.

For anyone interested in garter snakes, or even snakes in general, the Narcisse Snake Dens are a must-visit. Every spring, the garter snakes emerge ready to mate. A single mating ball — a large female surrounded by anything from several to dozens of male suitors — is impressive enough, but when thousands are out and about in the same location … well, you’ve never seen snakes so thick on the ground.


Why Do Garter Snake Keepers Like Garter Snakes?
Articles, In which I come up with some reasons why some reptile keepers might prefer garter snakes over other snakes. »
Why Don’t Reptile Keepers Appreciate Garter Snakes?
Articles, I look at some of the reasons why garter snakes aren’t more popular among reptile keepers. »
Keeping Garter Snakes Outdoors
Questions, Recently I’ve received a couple of questions from readers who want to know about keeping garter snakes outdoors. Now I understand that this is actually done in Europe: garter snake keepers there set up these elaborate backyard facilities to house… »
‘That Reptile Smell’ and Beginner Garters
Questions, Jack writes: Hi! I’m 13 years old and am looking into getting a garter snake. I have a suitable enclosure and equipment and can provide food, read your care guide along with some others, and there is now just one… »

News and Updates


USFWS Lists Two Garter Snakes as Threatened
News, The Northern Mexican Garter Snake (Thamnophis eques megalops) and the Narrow-headed Garter Snake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus) will receive federal protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assigned the two species Threatened status in a final… »
Narcisse Snake Den Videos
News, The garter snakes of the Narcisse Snake Dens may have dispersed for the summer, but you can still watch them online thanks to a couple of videos: one from National Geographic and one from Maclean’s, both from the camera… »
Garter Snakes on a Snowbank
News, This video was taken last May, at the Narcisse Snake Dens in Manitoba, but with winter well under way (it’s snowing outside as I write this) it seems timely nonetheless. It shows Red-sided Garter Snakes using a snowbank as… »
New Plan to Protect Giant Garter
News, A $4-million plan by California’s Department of Water Resources to protect the threatened Giant Garter Snake will allow for larger swaths of its wetland habitat to be preserved, the Stockton Record reports…. »