Provincial Snake Hibernaculum Survey

In collaboration with Alberta Environment and Parks, we initiated the first year of a two-year provincial snake hibernaculum (den) survey in 2018-19. We assessed snake activity at known red-side garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), plains garter snake (Thamnophis radix) and wandering garter snake (Thamnophis elegans) hibernacula using simple visual encounters surveys. We focussed our work on garter snake hibernaculum records held in the Alberta Fisheries and Wildlife Information Systems database. All crews followed a set of survey instructions to maximize their chance of finding snakes and hibernacula. We conducted surveys during snake emergence from hibernacula in the spring, prior to their dispersal to summer habitat, and/or during the autumn, prior to their ingress into hibernacula for the winter. In total, we assessed 52 hibernaculum records for potential snake activity, of which 25 (48%) were verified to be active based on the observation of at least one snake. We suspected that five hibernacula (10%) were inactive as a result of habitat loss or other disturbance factors. While we did not observe snake activity at the remaining 22 (42%) sites, there was nothing to indicate that snakes could not still occupy the site, therefore these sites were recorded as unknown status. This project has given us a great opportunity to interact with landowners, and they have shared with us the location of new hibernacula as well as the history of previously known ones. In turn, we have been able to provide them with additional information on snakes and their habitat needs with the goal of conserving snakes.


Alberta Environment and Park, Landowners

Annual Summaries

We are working hard to upload all past summaries. If there is a report you would like to see that isn't presently here, please email

Title Year Category
Provincial Snake Hibernaculum Survey 2017-2018 2
Provincial Snake Hibernaculum Survey 2018-2019 2