Our mission: To protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

 September 22, 2015

Our province is home to nine species of snakes, six of which are considered vulnerable, threatened or endangered. Like all wild animals, snakes face a number of serious threats such as habitat loss and climate change. But, sadly, negative attitudes towards them tend to impede efforts to conserve them.

“Snakes have long been misunderstood in our society,” says Meghann Cant, animal welfare educator for the BC SPCA. “Fear has led us to mistreat them more than protect them.”

Yet these reptiles play a very valuable role in the environment. They are significant predators of rodents such as voles and pocket gophers and, in turn, are important prey to other predators such as hawks and raccoons. “Snakes are helpful to farmers for rodent control,” says Cant. “Some species feed on slugs and snails, so they are beneficial to gardeners too.”

For those willing to step up and be “snake heroes,” Cant suggests the following ways to help snakes:

Just say no to chemicals. Pesticides like slug bait harm snakes and poison their prey.

Know before you mow. Before getting out the lawn-mower or weed-eater, stir the long grass with a stick to give snakes a chance to flee.

Eyes on the road. Snakes, who often like to sun themselves on roads, are vulnerable to being run over.

Cover up. Leave natural cover, such as bark, leaves, twigs, branches, rocks and fallen logs, to provide shelter for snakes. Rock piles, especially on sunny south-facing slopes, make great warming spots to aid in digestion and reproduction.

Safe passage. Snakes are less likely to use shelters isolated in the middle of an open area. Instead, locate rock and brush piles near hedges and shrubs to give them safe corridors to travel.

Lift with care. When landscaping, move objects like stones carefully to avoid accidently crushing snakes hidden underneath.

Go wild! Simply leaving a portion of your property alone is an excellent way to attract and shelter snakes, who are adapted to such natural habitat.

Winter is coming. To survive the cold, snakes den in an underground chamber called a hibernaculum. Some species, including garters, racers, rubber boas and rattlesnakes, hibernate together in the same den. Should you be lucky enough to have a hibernaculum on your property, protect it from disturbance. Loss of hibernacula can lead to the destruction of local snake populations.

Be a citizen scientist. Report any snake sightings to help the government better understand local snake populations.

Finally, to help snakes beyond your backyard, become a snake advocate. Understanding them is the key to appreciating them, so let others know how important snakes are. “Help us change how people view and treat snakes!” asks Cant. “Only when we value them as a society will we take action to protect them.”

Have you been kind to snakes recently? We want to hear about it! Tell us on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtags #SnakeHero and #millionacts, and you can be a part of the BC SPCA’s Million Acts of Kindness campaign.

Photo credits: sharp-tailed snakes - Laura Matthias; garter snakes - Mary Watts and Tyson Harrison; rattlesnakes - Sam Verigin and Larry Little

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

  Want animal stories, news, videos and more, delivered right to your mailbox? Enter your email address below to subscribe!





If you respond and have not already registered, you will receive periodic updates and communications from The BC SPCA.


What's this?

   Please leave this field empty

printer-friendly version Printer Friendly version

Imagine Canada Accreditation

Join the conversation; follow us online: