love shack

The whole shack shimmies when everybody’s movin' around and around and around and around! Everybody’s movin', everybody’s groovin' baby, folks lining up outside just to get down! Everybody’s movin', everybody’s groovin' baby, funky little shack, funky little shack! ~ Love Shack by The B-52s

As I lean over the railing peering into Den #3 the song Love Shack by The B-52s starts playing in my head. I am at the Narcisse Snake Dens north of Winnipeg, Manitoba and I am bearing witness to one of nature’s craziest mating rituals - thousands of red-sided garter snakes all meeting up in holes attempting to reproduce. The snakes are everywhere, all shaking and gyrating, hissing and slithering, you can hear the dens humming before you even get to the viewing points. There are snakes in the grass making their way to the den, kids running around holding snakes that accidentally slithered onto the viewing deck, and people staring into the snake dens in astonishment and disbelief. There is this strong feeling of snake love in the air, a true spring fling for the snakes all searching for a mate. It is one of the most berserk yet intriguing and fascinating things I have ever seen.

The Narcisse Snake Dens is the world’s largest concentration of snakes, and provides an excellent resource for snake research teams. Every spring carloads of people road trip to Narcisse to watch as tens of thousands of snakes emerge into the dens and start courting one another. It is an easy Manitoba day trip, located approximately one hour from Winnipeg, and is the perfect place for a nice stroll and picnic on a sunny day as you meander from one snake den to the next viewing this phenomenon. 

While the song Love Shack was silently running through my head as I watched the snakes, my husband’s mind was wandering to Indiana Jones, who is notorious for having a fear of snakes. “Why did it have to be snakes?”, my husband says grinning, quoting a famous Indiana Jones line. We both smile and nod in agreement that Indiana Jones probably wouldn't like this place. But we sure do. There is something hypnotic about watching the snakes in the dens, similar to watching a campfire flicker. They are mesmerizing and soothing, yet slightly creepy at the same time, certainly a sight to behold and one of Manitoba's most unique tourist attractions. I am glad we made the trip to see these snakes in their love shacks with our own eyes. It was quite the experience!

For more information on the Narcisse Snake Dens click here.