Reptilian Kidnapping has Happy Ending

An American visitor, apparently intent on snake-smuggling, had a change of heart recently while heading back to the United States from Windsor, Ontario.

A vehicle was seen dumping something near the entrance to the Windsor tunnel. It turned out the ‘dumpee’ was a snake. A passerby who witnessed the episode picked up the snake and gave it to Canadian border guards.

The guards, thinking it might be an exotic snake, turned it over to a Windsor veterinarian. The vet determined the snake was healthy and quite tame and while not exotic, it was a threatened species in Ontario. It was an Eastern Hog-nosed snake.

hognose2The Eastern Hog-nosed snake has long scales on its nose, giving it an upturned snout… hence the name. It lays its eggs and hibernates in sandy, well-drained habitats such as beaches and dry woods – but also needs access to wet areas such as swamps to hunt for frogs, toads and lizards.

While they’re dwindling in numbers, Eastern Hog-nosed snakes can be found in several provincial parks, including Rondeau. However, the kidnapped snake could not simply be taken to Rondeau and released.

As Emily Slavik – Rondeau’s Natural Heritage Education specialist – explains, snakes have a sort of ‘home range’ and the kidnapped Hog-nose might not survive if it was released far from its original home. Also, the snake likely came from a different genetic pool than Rondeau’s native Hog-nosed snakes, so releasing it into the wild could harm the local snake population.

hognose snakeBecause Rondeau is an educational park that teaches visitors about the natural world around them, the snake’s new home will be the Rondeau Visitor Centre. It will take up residence there in late October.

Eastern Hog-nosed snakes are protected under Ontario’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. It is against the law to move them – or any other wild animals – into or out of our provincial parks. If you come upon a wild animal, leave it where it is. If you’re worried about it, call your local Ministry of Natural Resources office.

For more information about Eastern Hog-nosed snakes and other threatened species, you can visit the Species at Risk website.

3 thoughts on “Reptilian Kidnapping has Happy Ending”

  1. darn smugglers and poachers; I’ve lived in the Windsor area for 50 yrs. and frequent Ojibway and all other nature areas and I’ve never seen a Hog-nosed there, but have seen fox snakes; did see a baby hog-nosed at Thedford cons. area once (near Port Franks); penalties for smuggling threatened and/or endangered species should be much heavier than they currently are

  2. I hope that someday there will be a dramitic shift in the way humanity perceives wildlife.

    The way in which the greenhouse effect has whipped the corporate world into doing
    something about the way in which we have been treating the earth being one example.

    This also goes for bass fishing before the season starts, defortation of old growth forests,
    and the many other things we can re-assess as we go forward.

    Poaching is illegal for a reason. Thank goodness for our regulations.

  3. I find the defense mecahnisms of the Eastern Hog-nosed snakes most fascinating, not to mention they are a very beautiful species. Living where I do I have had several opportunites to encounter them and am taken aback by thier hissing and puffing, their playing dead and that oh so wonderful smell. I also appreciate thier natural control of prey animals so anytime I find them I either relocate them to a safer area where my pets won’t disturb them or leave them where they lay.

    Ed U. Cayshun

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