Happy World Snake Day!

Ten kinds of snakes occur in BC and seven of these live in the southern interior.  Of our seven snake species, only one of them is venomous- the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake.


Snakes have played a key role in the environment for millions of years. Snakes are important players in the continuous cycling of nutrients are significant predators of rodents such as mice, voles and pocket gophers. Snakes themselves are important prey for other predators, such as birds of prey, badgers and bears. If their populations continue to be threatened, they could face extinction and be gone from this area forever. People who take the opportunity to better understand snakes find them fascinating animals.

Get to know the snakes in your neighbourhood!

The Northern Pacific Rattlesnake is the only venomous
snake found in the Okanagan, but they are timid and elusive.
Photo: Paula Rodriguez de la Vega
The non-venomous Gopher Snake is often mistaken for the Rattlesnake.
The Gopher Snake has no rattle on its tail, has a narrow head and sometimes
mimics the rattlesnake by making a clicking noise.
Photo: Paula Rodriguez de la Vega
The Desert Night Snake is found in the South Okanagan and is a small (12-18 inch) snake
and the most rare of the snakes found in the Okanagan. This snake has a distinctive dark collar at the base of it's head and vertical pupils.
Photo: A. Valedka

The Yellow-bellied Racer can grow to 20-48 inches long. Their body is slender with smooth
scales and uniform colour. This fast moving predator is active during the day eating everything from
lizards to rodents, snakes, frogs, grasshoppers and crickets. Although terrestrial, the Racer can climb bushes and shrubs.
Photo: Lisa Scott

The Rubber Boa is a small, thick-bodied snake, sometimes referred to as the
"two-headed snake" because its short, blunt tail resembles its head.
Photo: Lisa Scott

The Common Garter Snake is most easily identified by the bright, wide dorsal stripe.
This Garter Snake is most commonly encountered around aquatic habitats. When alarmed,
they will escape into the water, often diving to the bottom.
Photo: J. Dulisse

The Terrestrial Garter Snake is quite common in some areas.
Note the jagged edge to the central stripe down its back.
Photo: Lia McKinnon

Be Snake Smart!
1. Wear boots when in tall grass or cluttered areas.
2. Step around, not over debris that snakes may be hidden under or near.
3. Never put your hands where you cannot clearly see if a snake is present (example: wood piles, rock piles, rock ledges when climbing etc.)
4. Do not harass snakes. They may bite when threatened.
5. Leave snakes alone. Do not pick them up when encountered.

Snakes are protected by provincial and federal laws which make it an offence to harass, kill them.  This same law makes it illegal to adopt snakes as pets.

Our Living in Nature Series has several informative factsheets about snakes.  (CLICK TITLE FOR DOCUMENT)

Snake Smart – identifying local snakes
Snake Barrier Fencing

Working in Snake Country

Wanted – Desert Night Snake

Creating surrogate habitat for snakes in agricultural settings

Living with Wildlife: Snakes