Snakes

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The Fort Livingstone National Historical Site is the home of the nesting grounds of the common garter snake.

A local historian/artist wrote: "I recall reading that sometime after some of the officers' families arrived at Fort Livingstone (1876), it was finally decided to plaster the interiors of some of the living quarters (given the construction debacles that left the wind blowing through gaps in the walls), a job undertaken in October. Hence, families were living in tents, and with the nights becoming colder, snakes heading for hibernation found the warmth inside the tents appealing... Also, and this is conjecture on my part, based on my riding experience, horses are often easily startled by snakes and may shy quite violently. It is easy to imagine a very by-the-book senior officer commanding a group of his mounted troops in a drill on the parade ground, only to have the precision of his efforts completely sabotaged by a garter snake unnerving the horses."

May, usually around Mother's Day, the snakes emerge from hibernation by the thousands. The picture on the right show snake balls (usually a female in the middle) and snakes plotting their get-away by climbing trees.

Information about the snakes in Manitoba can be be found at this link: http://www.naturenorth.com/spring/creature/garter/Narcisse_Snake_Dens.html

Some interesting snake facts:

  • Snakes can't crawl backwards - they can only turn the front half of their body and start moving in the opposite direction
  • Despite a lack of external ears, snakes can hear. Sound waves are transmitted from the skin on the side of their skull to the jaw muscle to their ear bone.
  • A snake's sense of smell is of critical importance. Snakes use their tongues to augment their ability to sense smells. Odour particles adhere to the tip of their tongue and are transferred to the roof of their mouth and then delivered to a special chamber for sensing smells. This is why they often flick their tongues in and out. (http://www.wildaboutgardening.org/en/features/section2/snake/snake.htm)