Are snakes as dangerous as television and Hollywood would have us believe?
According to Karen Truong, owner of All Reptiles – an animal store located in at 1911 Kennedy Rd. in Scarborough – snakes are not harmful, at least not the ones slithering around Toronto.
“Snakes are much more likely to run from you, just like most wildlife. They don’t aim to attack people unless you were to step on one,” Truong said. “They hide in the bushes and they hide underneath rocks and they pretty much keep to themselves.”
Toronto snakes are especially not dangerous. Toronto Wildlife executive director Nathalie Karvonen said indigenous snakes are nothing to fear, and it’s important to keep their habitat intact.
“It is extremely important for people living in Scarborough and the GTA to understand that wild snakes and the native snakes that they’ll see in their backyard are completely harmless,” Karvonen said. “The best thing that people can do is understand that and not panic when they see an animal like that, because it’s usually just a myth and a misconception that’s been blown out of proportion.”
Toronto’s snakes are non-threatening and illusive animals that need to be protected the same as all other wildlife. Truong compares the deceiving irrational fear of snakes to an avoidance of dogs, but there’s a twist.
“I think most people’s reaction when they don’t understand is to just run away,” Truong said. “(Some) people are scared of dogs right? Sometimes people see a dog, they get scared and they run. The natural instinct of a dog is to chase after what’s running away from them. Snakes are the opposite. If you run away from that snake it’s not going to chase you.”
In order to keep these reptiles safe, Karvonen shared some tips on how to keep a snake-friendly habitat in the city.
“You can actually create a habitat in your backyard for them so they have places to live and hide,” Karvonen said. “It’s always a good idea to allow part of your yard to just become wildlife habitat. The thing that doesn’t help snakes or any wildlife in Scarborough or in Toronto is when you have a manicured grass lawn that you mow three times a week down to a quarter of an inch. That might as well be a desert as far as wildlife habitat goes. You can help snakes by providing them a place to hide and a habitat to live in.”