No Two Snakes are Alike

By: Justine Payne

  Have you ever met someone who is the exact same as you? I haven’t! We all have different personalities with different likes and dislikes. Gray Ratsnakes are like that too!

 Gray Ratsnakes are creatures of habit so they like to hang out in the same places time and time again. This is especially true during the winter months. Gray Ratsnakes hibernate during the winter and so they find a place underground, below the frost line. These places are often in deep rock crevices and they will use the same overwintering site year after year.

 Gray Ratsnakes also have preferences when it comes to their day-to-day lives during the summer. More knowledge has been gained about this through monitoring being done at Murphys Point Provincial Park. The Gray Ratsnake Monitoring Technician has been tracking 6 adult male snakes using radio transmitters. The goal of the monitoring is to find where these snakes spend the winter. But in the meantime the technician has learned what each snake likes to spend its time.

  One Gray Ratsnake that is being tracked, who is referred to as ‘850’ or “Chip”, likes to move around a lot and doesn’t stay in one place for too long. Chip was first found in Ash Hill campground but he didn’t stay very long! He then travelled across Hog Bay to eventually crossing the Narrows of the Big Rideau and spending time along the shore which is indicated in green on the map. Chip has travelled as much as 1.5km in one day throughout his travels!

One of the other snakes that is being tracked is very different from Chip. He is referred to as ‘150’ and he likes to hang out in old farmstead buildings and does not like to travel far from the old farmstead. In fact he mainly stays inside one of the rotten logs of the farmstead.

 Even though these two Gray Ratsnakes are the same species, they are different from each other in how they spend their days.

Chip "850" and his movements

Chip “850” and his movements. 

Released in Ash Hill campground on June 28, over the next twenty-four hours proceeded to move to shoreline near the main beach, then swimming across Hogg Bay to an area somewhere across from the Amphitheater (green area marked 1). Within the next twenty-four hours (3:30 June 29-June 30) 850 proceeded to move along the shoreline, presumably crossing the water at one or several points in order to reach area 2 by the end of the day-long period, travelling approximately 1.5km. From June 30 to July 13 850 remained in area 2, moving from one location to another. July 14 850 swam across the Narrows of the Big Rideau, approximately 750 meters. The next three to four days were spent travelling south, running parallel to the shoreline. Five days were spent on the island in Area 3 before movement south continued. The next eleven days 850 continued travelling south along the shoreline. As of August, 2 850 has been located on Parks Canada’s Tar Island (Area 5)


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