Lake Country woman rattled by slithering visitor - InfoNews

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Lake Country woman rattled by slithering visitor

Stacey McKee had an unexpected visitor this week.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Stacey McKee
July 04, 2019 - 2:13 PM

LAKE COUNTRY - Stacey McKee’s dogs were barking like crazy yesterday morning, and she’d had just about enough.

“I went downstairs to tell them to be quiet,” said McKee, noting that as she neared the patio of her Lake Country home yesterday, July 3, she could see something strange.

“I thought it was toys, or something — but (the dog) was near it, nearly losing his mind.”

She moved closer and realized it was something far worse than a discarded toy.

Poised as though it was ready to strike and rattling quite loudly was a large snake. McKee shooed her dogs back inside, ran upstairs and grabbed her phone to document what could very well be a once-in-a-lifetime visit — fingers crossed.

“The snake stayed in that position, like it was ready to go, for a while,” she said. “The dogs were really freaking it out.”

Slowly it calmed down and “slithered into the garden.”

She lost sight of him in the cedars but heard from a neighbour, later, that he'd gone off to their patio to bask for a while.

Before that, however, she went to the Conservation Officer Service web page, which recommends calling the snake report in, and was told they don’t do anything about large snakes. It also says that rattlers are protected and people can’t catch and can’t kill them — a fact she’s glad for, despite the fright she received.

“We’re in their area,” she said.

McKee has been in the area for three years and had no idea rattlesnakes were out there.

Now that she’s aware she’s going to be sure to do a visual sweep of the yard before she lets her pooches out, and she recommends others do the same — that was her biggest concern last night, once the creature moved on.

The Thompson-Okanagan is home to seven species of snake, and the good news is that six are totally harmless.

Even the notorious Western rattlesnake that made its appearance on McKee’s deck is still pretty low down on the worldwide chart of dangerous snakes.

Karl Larsen, a professor in the department of natural resource science at Thompson Rivers University recently spoke to InfoNews and said that it’s the only venomous snake we have, but it would be rare for a rattlesnake to bite.

They grow to about one metre long and up to five centimetres in width. The snakes puff themselves up in fear so may appear bigger than they actually are. The rattle is a warning device and striking or biting is the last resort of a rattlesnake, Larsen said.

"They'll try to remain secretive and not be detected."

Larsen has been bitten a few times himself and described it as "just like a mosquito... you don't feel a thing."

Sometimes people get bit and they don't even realize, he said. But if you do get bit it's very important to go straight to the hospital as it is potentially very dangerous.

Larsen also said what you may have seen in movies doesn't work, so don't try sucking, cutting or ice, "just go to the hospital."

The snakes eat small mammals, birds, rats, mice, red squirrels and even baby marmots. Larsen said they are not "super common" in the Interior but research into snake populations hasn't been conducted for 35 years and is just starting up again now.

To learn all about the snakes that call the Thompson Okanagan home, check out this post.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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