Seven Wonders of Canada
The Narcisse Snake Dens are located six kilometers north of Narcisse, Manitoba. They are the winter home of tens of thousands of Red-sided Garter Snakes. The pits are the largest concentration of this particular type of snake in the world. Their winter dens are subterranean caverns formed by the area's water-worn limestone bedrock. In the spring, the snakes come up to the pits where they engage in mating rituals. Then they disperse into nearby marshes for the summer.
Pitch 1 (1:20)
Pitch 2 (0:48)
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When the snow melts in late April and early May, tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes slip out of their limestone dens near Narcisse, Manitoba to perform their mating rituals in great writhing, tangled heaps. The pits "are known worldwide for the snake dens which harbor the largest over wintering population of the Red-sided Garter Snake on the planet. The deep limestone crevasses are also a bit of a zoological oddity in that their northern latitude makes the garter snake the only reptile known to survive happily in such a cold climate.
I expected to SEE lots of snakes there, but I never expected to HEAR snakes there. On a hot sunny day, there are so many snakes moving against one another, that the sound of their scales rubbing together is clearly audible. One of the most inspiring things about being there was talking to people who had overcome their own deep-seeded aversion to snakes to ensure that their children could witness the spectacle. It is an amazing sight (and sound), unique in Canada and the world, and a part of our natural heritage that we must treasure.
130 km north of Winnipeg, it's possible to see more snakes at a glance than anywhere else in the world. They slide off into the local marshes for the summer, then return to their dens in early fall. This Wildlife Management Area is outfitted with viewing platforms. Sounds like a natural wonder to me.
Red Sided garter snakes are a natural phenomenon due to the limestone layers that exist there. Tourists come from all over the world to view this spectacle as do many scientists to study these non-venomous creatures. Tunnels have been built under the roadways to stop the carnage of snakes being run over by vehicles. It appears that many of these snakes have learned to use the tunnels because one does not see as many dead snakes on the roadways.