Long and legless, snakes are carnivorous reptiles covered in overlapping scales. Snakes are found virtually everywhere besides Antarctica, with roughly 3,600 known species in existence.
Most snakes are nonvenomous, though the ones that do employ it to kill or subdue prey, rather than self-defence. Some venoms are deadly enough to cause painful injury, or even death, to humans. Thankfully, among Ontario snakes there’s only one venomous species – the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake.
Serpentes or Sistrurus catenatus (Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake; the only venomous snake in Ontario)
While the smallest of snakes measure to a measly 4 inches, the largest snakes are menacing. The anaconda, for example, stretches an intimidating 17.1 feet in length, and is the heaviest snake on the planet – 215 pounds. The largest snakes in Ontario are Gray Ratsnakes at 2 metres in length on average. Other snakes in Ontario include the Eastern Garter Snake, Northern Ribbon Snake, and Smooth Green Snake.
An important aspect of snake behaviour is that they utilize smell to track prey. They smell using their patented forked tongues, which collect airborne particles for the vomeronasal organ (Jacobson’s organ) in the mouth to decipher.
Other interesting snake facts: Their forked tongue not only allows them to smell and taste simultaneously, but gives them directional sense. That’s why you see their tongues continuously active – they’re gauging the particles around them from the air, ground, and water, analyzing the environment to determine if prey or predators are in their vicinity.
All snakes are carnivorous, feasting on small animals like frogs, birds, fish, insects, small mammals, and even other snakes. Thanks to a lack of teeth, snakes can’t bite or tear their food, swallowing their prey whole instead. Snake behaviour tends not to be aggressive so long as you keep your distance from the most dangerous varieties!
Don’t feel bad for snakes and their lack of limbs – legs and arms would just slow them down. Different snakes use different modes of locomotion to slither through their environments. Without the gait of a limbed animal, snakes have distinct and discrete movements from other animals, with transitions that are more abrupt. A common snake habitat is an underground burrow, but many are aquatic.
Snakes are a form of entertainment in places like India, where snake charmers put on roadside shows. Trapping snakes is another popular pastime in India, where the art of snake catching has been practiced for generations. We don’t recommend trying that with Ontario snakes though!
In terms of snake control and snake relocation on your property, your first step should be to remove anything that might act as a snake habitat. That means removing hiding spots like piles of firewood, piles of debris, high grass, and wild vegetation. With nowhere to hide, snake relocation is likely.
To keep snakes from entering your home, seal cracks and gaps along the exterior walls with mesh or caulk. Be sure to eliminate potential food sources – remember your snake facts, they only eat meat – meaning any rodent or pest infestations nearby (we specialize in these services, too!).