Protecting the Brown Snake

Help protect 
the Brown Snake

The Brown Snake is one of Québec’s smallest snake species: adults usually measure between 25 and 35 cm. In Québec, it is found only in the greater Montréal area. Very shy, the Brown Snake tries to hide or escape when it feels threatened. It feeds mainly on snails, worms and slugs, and plays an important role in the balance of our ecosystems.

There are many ways to protect the Brown Snake!

  • Do not bring snakes home! Not only is it illegal, but it would greatly harm wild populations. In addition, it might languish in captivity.
  • Do not dispose of garbage, yard scraps or materials in shrub lands and other natural environments as this degrades their habitat.
  • Keep shrub lands natural! Avoid landscaping and mowing - these environments are the Brown Snake and many other species’ preferred habitats.
  • Above all, avoid hurting or killing a snake, or moving it away from its original habitat. Remember, they are harmless!
  • Be careful to avoid crushing them when driving on the road or on bike paths. If they are found on the road you can help them cross the street by moving them to the side where they were heading.

Create a garden for snakes at home!

The brown snake is the gardener’s ally as it consumes several pests such as slugs and snails. By not chasing it away from your property you contribute to its survival by providing a safe habitat and it does you a favor by protecting your vegetable garden! You can even make certain arrangements that will favour its presence:

  • Create hiding spots. The Brown Snake needs shelter on the ground, which can take the form of piles of stones or wood planks, roof shingles, or pieces of sheet metal. Focus on sunny areas that do not get mowed where it can warm up safely as you avoid hurting or killing it while mowing. Important: snakes do not usually frequent areas where grass is regularly mowed.
  • Create a wet area, such as a small artificial pond, which will attract a multitude of species and help maintain the moisture required for Brown Snake prey.
  • Avoid using pesticides and chemicals in your garden and on your lawn. These could harm the snake as well as its food sources.
  • Leave some parts of your property in their natural state and grow native plants to create plots of habitat for Brown Snakes to use: shrub lands are their preferred habitat.

You want to do more?

  • Promote the conservation of shrub lands within your entourage, elected officials and land managers in your area.
  • Volunteer with an association, a citizens group or local conservation organizations dedicated to protecting natural environments: offer your ideas, your time or donations.
  • Report your observations on the Atlas des amphibiens et des reptiles du Québec's website. This allows biologists at the Ecomuseum Zoo to study amphibian and reptile populations to better protect them.
  • Do you want to better protect an open field that you own, or get advice on how to develop your land? Speak to our research and conservation experts by writing to aarq@ecomuseum.ca
If cohabiting with the brown snake scares you, remember that it is harmless! It’s a very shy species and it’s too small to bite a human. Here are tips that can help facilitate cohabitation:
  • Avoid storing materials such as stones, concrete pieces, logs, sheet metal or other debris near the house. This attracts snakes.
  • Keep the grass short.
  • Do not use poison or repellent: they are inefficient, expensive and can poison other animals, whether wild or domestic.
  • Remember: It is illegal to kill a snake or to destroy a hibernation site or nest.

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