They may not be cute and fluffy like a panda, but the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) says the Eastern hog-nosed snake, like other at-risk species, are just as crucial to the ecosystem and in need of help.
Earlier today, the Conservation Authority released 29 newly-hatched snakelets back into the Thames Watershed after their first-ever successful incubation.
It was an exciting day for many involved with the UTRCA, as the species is so at risk that many had never seen one before, let alone almost 30.
Species-at-risk biologist Scott Gillingwater said conservation for at-risk reptiles can be difficult, because people often have a negative opinion towards snakes.
He is hoping more awareness can change people’s perception.
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“Unfortunately, snakes have been seen as these evil or bad creatures, whether it’s from books or religious issues, but they are an intrinsic and important part of our natural world,” said Gillingwater.
“They benefit species because they are prey to birds and mammals, and they also prey on species because their primary food source is toads.
“They are an important part of our little ecosystem in southwestern Ontario, and I say little because there is not a lot left.”
Gillingwater added one of the reasons the creature is at risk is persecution due to fear.
The species is at risk of becoming endangered if steps are not taken to address factors like habitat loss, fragmentation, and road mortality.
The UTRCA said the Hog-nosed snakes are entirely harmless. The snake will try to scare potential threats away by imitating a cobra and will eventually roll over and play dead.