Larsen & Diane
Pacific Tree Frog
Western Terrestrial Garter Snake
Pacific Tree Frog
Image courtesy of Lauren Brown
The Wildlife Park is home to two female rattlesnakes; Larsen and Diane. Both western rattlesnakes were donated to the park by Dr. Karl Larsen, a professor at Thompson Rivers University.
Description: Western rattlesnakes have a distinctive "rattle" on their tail that they use to warn predators and other animals to stay away. Rattlesnakes are venomous, have distinctive dark blotches on their backs with lighter colouration in between and have a broad and stout appearance.
Distribution: Western rattlesnakes are found in the Interior of British Columbia; they prefer the Bunchgrass and Ponderosa Pine regions of the Interior.
Diet: Rattlesnakes can consume a variety of small mammals, including deer mice, voles, pocket gophers, marmots, squirrels, and sometimes other snakes.
Behaviour: Rattlesnakes are more scared of you than you are of them. If they feel a larger animal approaching them, they will leave the area. If they cannot flee from the area, a rattlesnake will rely on their camouflage to remain hidden.
*IMPORTANT* If you hear a rattle sound while in the wild, STOP. Do NOT run away (you might run right into the snake!). Find out where the sound is coming from. Either go in the opposite direction or walk widely around the sound. The rattlesnake's rattle is warning you of their presence. Do NOT approach a rattling rattlesnake. You should also avoid touching a dead rattlesnake as the biting reflex still works!
IT IS ILLEGAL TO REMOVE A SNAKE FROM ITS HABITAT, OR TO KILL/HARM ANY SNAKE!
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Magna came to the Wildlife Park when her winter den was destroyed. All snakes return to a special den for the winter called a hibernaculum. If this home is destroyed, snakes are unable to find a new home, and will freeze in the winter time. Magna was named for Magna Bay in the Shuswap. Rubber boa are an endangered species in British Columbia.
Description: Rubber boa are true boas, meaning they can constrict their food like a python or boa constrictor. Rubber boa have non keeled scales meaning there is no ridge to their scales; this helps them to burrow into the ground easier than if their scales had extra ridges. Rubber boa are also sometimes called the two headed snake, because their tail is rounded like their heads. They can use this as a defense against predators by hiding their true head and pretending to strike with their tail.
Distribution: Rubber boa can be found throughout the grasslands and forests of BC. They prefer to live in the moist soil or found at the river's edge or in the loam (decomposing material) of a forest.
Diet: These boa live mainly on small rodents, and specialize in eating the young of mice and shrews. They use their rounded tail to keep the mother mouse busy while they swallow the young whole.
Behaviour: Rubber boa are a very "shy" snake. They tend to hunt at night, and prefer to remain hidden under logs or rocks. While they are great burrowers, these boa can also swim and climb trees!
***Please note that snakes prefer to remain on the ground. They see us as predators who want to eat them; if you see a snake in the wild, do not pick it up. To defend themselves snakes will bite or vent (release urine and feces) onto an attacker.***
Image courtesy of R.D. Scheer
The Park is home to Zorro our gopher snake; gopher snakes are the largest snakes in British Columbia. Gopher snakes are not venomous, but can behave like a rattlesnake when they feel threatened.
Description: Gopher snakes have a light brown to tan base colour with dark brown or black blotches on their backs. While they do resemble a rattlesnake, their tail is just tapered; their head is more slender and their body more slender.
Distribution: These reptiles can be found throughout the Interior of BC, and especially prefer the grassland habitats, but can also be found in the bunchgrass and ponderosa pine forests.
Diet: Gopher snakes consume mice, rats, voles, small ground squirrels, young birds and even lizards among other things. Gopher snakes can constrict their prey before eating it.
Behaviour: Gopher snakes are a very aggressive snake and prefer to be left alone. When threatened, they will coil their body up like a rattlesnake, hiss and shake their tail. When they place their tail among dry twigs and leaves it can sound like a rattle. Gopher snakes can also puff up their head to resemble a rattlesnake.
Image courtesy of Lauren Brown
The Park is home to Heiro, our garter snake. Heiro came to the Park because her winter home was destroyed.
Description: The colouration of western terrestrial garter snakes varies, but they will all typically have a lighter coloured stripe down their back and dark spotting all over their body. The main base colour can range from a light green to a dark brown.
Distribution: These snakes are typically found throughout Southern BC, from the Interior to the Lower Mainland. They can survive in a wide variety of habitats.
Diet: Western terrestrial garter snakes will eat anything that will fit into their mouth! They will consume insects, fish, frogs, leeches, and even other snakes.
Behaviour: In the winter, snakes find a safe place to wait out the cold; this home is usually a south facing slope and may be warmed by undergrounds vents. Female garter snakes will lay 1-17 eggs near the entrance to their winter home (the hibernaculum).
The Park is home to Hubert our bearded dragon.
Description: Bearded dragons are named for the "beard" of spikes at their throat which will change colour depending on their mood and can be flared out as a threat display.
Distribution: Found in central Australia, but there are other species living all over Australia.
Diet: Omnivores - are opportunistic due to the extreme environment they live in, eating insects, spiders, plants, small rodents and other lizards.
Behavior: Bearded dragons like to climb up almost anything! When in a social group the higher the perch the more dominant the male! Depending on the ambient temperature, the dragon's skin will change colour. On cooler days their skin will be darker and on warmer days lighter in colour.
Image Courtesy of Lauren Brown
We have one adult pacific tree frog at the Park, who can be seen in our Eco Gallery.
Description: Pacific tree frogs are small arboreal (tree dwelling) frogs. They have special pads on their toes to help them stick to different surfaces. While their colour can vary from green to brown, the one common feature all pacific tree frogs share is the dark stripe from the tip of their nose, through their eye and to the back of their heads.
Distribution: These small frogs can be found throughout southern BC, and prefer areas that tend to be more moist.
Diet: Tadpoles consume a variety of vegetaion like algae and decomposing leaf litter, while the adults eat mainly insects.
Behaviour: Pacific tree frogs have a loud sound for such a small amphibian! The males start their song in early Spring to attract the females. These small frogs tend to stay hidden higher up in the vegetation.
The Park is home to one western toad.
Description: Western toads can grow to be 5.5 to 14.5 centimeters long. Like other toads, the western toad has bumpy skin with two large glands behind their eyes; these glands produce a bitter tasting poison that helps to deter predators from eating them.
Distribution: The western toad is one of the widest ranging toads in BC, persisting in habitats throughout the Province.
Diet: Western toads survive on a diet of insects, spiders and earthworms.
Behaviour: These toads tend to be more nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. During the breeding season, toads will lay their eggs in a pond or slow stream like a frog would, however the eggs appear as chains instead of clusters of eggs.
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