Every spring, the Narcisse Snake Dens are alive with tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes as they slither to the surface from their winter dens. These snakes are ready to begin their annual mating ritual. This spectacular ritual lasts for a one to three week period in late April or early May, depending on weather conditions.
The male snakes are usually first to surface and they wait patiently for the females to come out. As the larger females surface, the male snakes are eager to mate with them. This eagerness is displayed in the familiar “mating ball,” where one female is surrounded by up to one hundred males. There are four active snake dens at the Narcisse WMA. The dens are connected by a three-kilometre self-guiding interpretive trail. Although the garter snakes are harmless, they are best viewed by the observation platforms built next to the dens.
To get to the snake dens just look for the signs on Highway #17, six kilometers north of Narcisse. Turn east at the den signs and follow the short road to the parking lot. Here you will find orientation signs, washrooms, drinking water and a 3 kilometer walking trail. It’s a good idea to wear comfortable hiking boots or a sturdy pair of runners as some portions of the trail are rocky.
More facts about red-sided garter snakes in Manitoba and maps are available.