WILDLIFE 911: Reptiles and Amphibians
Saskatchewan is home to 10 species of snakes, 2 turtles, 1 lizard, 2 Salamanders, 3 frog and 3 toad species. With the exception of the Prairie Rattlesnake in the extreme south of the province, none are dangerous.
LEFT: Plains Gartersnakes removed from a home near Regina.
Calls about injured reptiles and amphibians are quite rare. Most often, calls to our hotline regarding reptiles and amphibians come in the fall or winter. People often find them in heated shops, garages and basements. Garter Snakes, salamanders, and amphibians burrow in along the foundation of homes or under heated concrete pads of garages and shops to hibernate. If the temperature is too warm, they will be unable to hibernate and will find themselves in need of food and water when they run out of stored energy. This is when people will often find them in their living spaces. These animals will die if put outside in the winter and must be overwintered before being released the next spring.
Snakes use the same den to hibernate in year after year. Moving a snake from it’s home turf means it will have a difficult time finding a new den come fall, decreasing it’s chance for survival.
LEFT: One of 15 Boreal Chorus Frogs brought in from a BHP mine site to be overwintered.
If you have found a snake or amphibian in the winter, it can be placed in a secure container such as Tupperware or a Rubbermaid tote along with a shallow bowl of water and something to hide under. The water must be dechlorinated for amphibians. This can be done by leaving it in an open container for a day or just using bottled or well water. Poke holes in the top for air. Never place a wild reptile or amphibian into an aquarium that housed a different reptile or amphibian without first sterilizing the aquarium. This can aid in the transference of diseases. Contact the WRSOS hotline for further advice.
Turtles can occasionally be found out of water in the summer as well. These are most often females that are looking for a safe place to lay her eggs. You can help in this situation by leaving them alone or, helping them cross the road so they are not struck and killed. The northern most population of turtles is at Pike Lake Regional Park near Saskatoon.
Pet store varieties such as Red Eared Sliders should never be released into the wild. These turtles are unable to survive the Prairie winters and can introduce devastating diseases and parasites to local, native species.
Top and bottom view of native Western Painted Turtles.
The Ministry of the Environment is currently developing legislation regarding the movement of reptiles and amphibians, by people, around the province. There will be zones set up similar to that in place for deer and elk. This is to prevent the spread of diseases around the province.