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The peak of the snake emergence has almost arrived at the Narcisse Snake Dens. Many hundreds of snakes can be seen at each den and snakes are now actively involved in the mating process. Peak activity is expected by mid-May.

Snakes on the Plains: Manitoban 'spectacle' is one-of-a-kind

Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Sunday, May 10, 2015, 7:21 PM - It may be your worst nightmare. But this snake spectacle attracts thousands of people from around the world.

Every spring tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes emerge from hibernation and join together in the Narcisse dens in Manitoba to begin their annual mating ritual. The dens contain the largest concentration of red-sided garter in the world.

This fascinating sight usually lasts anywhere from one to three weeks, with peak viewing period in mid-May. After the mating frenzy, the snakes disperse to nearby marshes for the summer. By early fall they all return, visible to visitors before going underground once cool wet autumn weather conditions settle in.

Wildlife officials say recent cool temperatures have suppressed snake activity but they are predicting good viewing conditions for the May long weekend.

Visitors walk a three-kilometre interpretive trail through native grassland and aspen forest where they can watch the snakes from four different denning sites.

Snake-pit goers are encouraged to bring hiking shoes, a windbreaker, refreshments and a light snack as people tend to spend anywhere from one to two hours in the area and cover a fair bit of ground.

Source: Manitoba Conservation | Manitoba Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection 

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