Garter snakes slithering into Brandon-area homes

A number of homeowners in Brandon and Manitoba's Westman area are having to deal with snake infestations.

Poulin's Pest Control reporting unusual spike in calls this past week

These red-sided garter snakes, as seen on the CBC-TV series Wild Canada, are from the Narcisse snake pits. The reptiles have started appearing in a number of homes in the province's Westman region, prompting a spike in calls to pest control companies. (CBC)

A number of homeowners in Brandon and Manitoba's Westman area are having to deal with snake infestations.

Poulin's Pest Control in Brandon has seen an abnormal spike in calls related to garter snakes this past week.

"'What am I going to do? There's snakes in my house' is the big question we're getting from people, or, 'I've had a bunch of snakes and, you know, is this normal? When will they stop?'" said Poulin's branch manager David Lane.

Lane said calls about snakes are never frequent, but this past week alone he's heard from a dozen homeowners within Brandon, Rivers, and as far as Reston. Even one health-care facility has been affected.

"We've had as little as a person seeing only one snake to as many as someone saying, 'I've had 15 snakes,'" he said. 

"We've been having people reporting finding them, you know, downstairs in the basement, up in the foundation ledges, [in the] bathrooms behind the toilets, in living rooms. We've had them just about everywhere."

Suns out, snakes out

Garter snakes typically come out of hibernation in April.

Lane said the cold winter coupled with last week's sudden warm-up of temperatures could be the reason for the spike.

"The sunlight [has] been warming up the south sides of buildings; that's been stirring them up in those nice warm areas," he said.

If you find a snake in your home

Lane said if you find a snake inside your home and can handle the situation on your own, move the animal outdoors.

But he cautions that snakes are a protected species and they must be dealt with humanely.

"It needs to be removed … but please, just don't throw them outside into the cold," he said.

Garter snakes are non-venomous and can be between 46 and 137 centimetres in length. They are typically green in colour with three stripes on the back. 

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