For the past two springs we have been called to help the Parkland School in Red Deer as the snake hibernaculum (the place where snakes gather to spend the winter) on their property has numerous garter snakes awakening and making their way across the school grounds. The school is located a short distance from the Kerry Wood Nature Centre so the snakes are transported to the wetland and forest surrounding the Centre to spend their summer. They would have made their way there anyway but taking them away from the activity of a school ground is safer for both animals and people. This year, as Gwen was moving the snakes, she noticed one that had some spine issue which limited her mobility. It was decided to take it back for some care and recovery. One June 22 that recovering garter snake gave birth to 22 healthy, little garter snakes! Although the female still cannot be released, after consultation with Alberta’s snake expert, the little snakes were released at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre where the mom would have given birth if not injured.
70% of the world’s snakes lay eggs while the others give birth to live young. Live-birthing, or viviparous snakes, tend to live in colder climates. Those who lay eggs require warmer climates to help incubate.