Cold-Hearted Snake

Whirlpool Lake in ManitobaWhirlpool Lake in ManitobaThe red-sided garter snake thrives in Manitoba because of the abundance of standing water left by rain and snowmelt. There are thousands of lakes within Manitoba, with these lakes covering more than 14.5 percent of its total land territory. All of this standing fresh water provides the perfect home for earthworms, frogs, tadpoles, fish, snails and insects many of which are the garter snakes’ favorite foods. What better place to live than one with an abundance of nutritious food right in your backyard! These conditions have made Manitoba the ideal area for garter snake living. But their life is not as picture-perfect as it may seem. In the winter, Manitoba’s wonderful terrain is transformed into a frozen landscape.

Garter snake eating a frogGarter snake eating a frog All reptiles are cold-blooded, meaning that their bodies do not produce energy with which to keep themselves warm. This can be both beneficial and harmful to these tiny garter snakes. A reptile does not need as much energy from food as a mammal because their bodies are not using the energy to create warmth. However, cold winter temperatures make it very difficult for reptiles to stay alive, because their bodies will adjust to the temperature outside. So although the snakes will not need as much food during the winter months, they do not have a method with which to keep themselves warm. It is imperative that the snakes find a warmer place to spend the winter or else they surely will die in the extreme temperatures and icy snow.