May 17, 2014 5:26 pm
Updated: May 17, 2014 7:43 pm

Thousands of snakes appear in Narcisse

Red-sided garter snakes slither out of their dens at Narcisse by the thousands this long weekend

Ashley Carter/Global News

NARCISSE – Tens of thousands of snakes are making their appearance at Narcisse Snake Dens this long weekend.

“It’s really cool, I didn’t know what to expect when we got here,” said one visitor.

Hundreds flocked from all over Manitoba to the snake dens Saturday for one reason.

“Narcisse has the largest congregation of red-sided garter snakes in the world,” said park guide Shelley Mishtak.

And this long weekend is the peak of snake activity.

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“Every year I’ve tried to go but I always miss the peak time and this year I’ve been watching the website and going ‘I’m not going to miss it this year were definitely coming’,” said another visitor.

Normally, the snakes appear in April but with the extra long winter Manitoba has experienced, it delayed the snakes from mating and feeding.

So now that it’s warm the harmless garter snakes are slithering out of their winter dens by the thousands and performing a mating ritual where one female is surrounded by up to 100 males.

Visitors are encouraged to gently pick up and handle the nonpoisonous snakes.

“It can be a little overwhelming for them, you’ll find snakes get a little grumpier through the day, they’ve been held and borderline harassed,” said Mishtak.

But the snakes aren’t the only ones who can be nervous. “I can’t touch them, I feel very scared about them,” said visitor Crystal Zhang.

For others it’s exciting. “They’re smooth but feel slimy at the same time,” said one child.

While this weekend is the time to see the snakes before they return to their dens in September, the site is open year round with guides on site every day.

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