Rattlesnakes not the only danger in Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park

After a girl ended up in hospital Friday from a rattlesnake bite in Dinosaur Provincial Park, we take a look at what other creepy crawlers lurk in Alberta's badlands.

What you need to know about the slithering and skittering inhabitants of the Alberta Badlands

A nine-year-old girl was airlifted to the Alberta Children's Hospital on Friday after being bitten by a rattlesnake in Dinosaur Provincial Park. (CBC)

After a nine-year-old girl was bitten by a rattlesnake Friday in Dinosaur Provincial Park, we wondered just how common they are — and what other creepy crawlers lurk in Alberta's Badlands.

​"She was not doing anything to provoke the rattlesnake but she was walking through the campsite area," said Andrew Hunt, the acting manager for the park.

He says no one in Alberta has ever died from rattlesnake bite and there have only been four reported cases in the last two decades.

But that doesn't mean you won't see one.

Hunt says there are plenty of rattlers slithering around the Alberta Badlands right now, moving from their winter dens to their summer digs.

"It can be weekly and for a few days when the weather is just starting to get hot in can be daily," he said. "What we have to do sometimes is a park ranger will grab his snake tongs and a bucket and he'll remove the snake from the busy area of the park."

He says baby rattlesnakes are about the size of dew worms and can grow to over 100 centimetres. The longest one reported in Alberta, that he can remember, was 114 centimetres.

What to do about rattlesnake bites

Keep calm and carry on, says Hunt.

He says the last thing you want to do if you're bitten by a rattler is raise your heart rate, as that will spread the venom faster through your body.

But the most important thing to remember, says Hunt, is that you do have time to make your way to EMS.

"The venom does take awhile to take effect."


Hunt says while rattlesnakes are actually "really shy," bullsnakes have the exact opposite personality.

"Sometimes they'll climb the trees right in the campsite to catch bird eggs right above the campers. It always is a bit entertaining."

Bullsnakes are a constrictor species, but not venomous.

Bull snakes are non-venomous constrictors — snakes that wrap around their prey and squeeze — that grow up to two metres long. (Eric Osmundson/Flickr Creative Commons)


Yep, we have those too. 

But you'll likely never meet one, says Hunt.

"They're very small and they're almost transparent," he said. "I've only seen one — and that was actually in my desk in my office."

Scorpion encounter are rare in Alberta but conservation officers say they are out there. (Carlos Perez Naval)


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