Snakes causing hissy fits at Sask. hospital

The hospital in Herbert, Sask., has been waging a war against a snake invasion.
Garter snakes come in different varieties, including this one, an eastern garter snake. (Mark Wilson/Wikimedia Commons)

The hospital in Herbert, Sask., has been waging a war against a snake invasion.

Since February, more than 100 garter snakes have been found at the Herbert & District Integrated Health Facility in the town located about 200 kilometres west of Regina.

Most of the serpents have turned up in a crawl space or the basement, away from the public, but a few have slithered their way into more public areas of the facility, which has acute care and long-term care.

A few snakes were seen winding their way down a hallway, while another one was found in a storage room.

"There was actually a total of six snakes ... found on the main level of the facility," facility spokesman Bryce Martin said.

The problem was first noticed in February, with maintenance staff, pest control crews and occupational health and safety officials getting involved.

A small hole was found in the basement, and that's apparently how the snakes were getting in, Martin said.

Some sticky pads were placed around the area and they've been effective at trapping the snakes, he said.

Garters are harmless, relatively small snakes, and some of the people at the hospital who've grown up on farms or around wildlife haven't been fazed, Martin said.

On the other hand, not everyone feels that way.

"Others are just seeing them as a little sneaky thing that slimes and slithers around," Martin said.

When the ground thaws, the hospital is looking at taking further steps to prevent them from getting in. One option is to build a trench around the facility and fill it with packed gravel.

"Our No. 1 priority is to keep the snakes from moving up to the main level," he said.