| Environmental Columns

Brown Snake Hibernaculum in Terra-Cotta Natural Park

Work is being done in the wildlands of Terra-Cotta Natural Park from now until September. In partnership with the Fondation Hydro-Québec pour l’environnement, an artificial hibernaculum for brown snakes will be installed, the fifth of its kind since 2016. A deep hole filled with large rocks and pieces of wood, a hibernaculum is a habitat where snakes can hibernate in winter.

The brown snake grows up to 35 cm long. It has two rows of brown spots along its back, with dark areas under its eyes. One of the eight species of grass snakes in the province, the brown snake is a very rare reptile in Québec. It is also one of the six grass snake species designated as potentially threatened or vulnerable. Urban sprawl, which results in the loss, modification, and fragmentation of their habitat, and road traffic pose the biggest threats to this species. The artificial hibernaculum that will be installed in Terra-Cotta Natural Park is part of efforts designed to help preserve this species.

There are over thirty hibernacula in the Montérégie, Montréal and Laval. The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs is actively involved in this project and will be monitoring certain characteristics of the hibernaculum, such as temperature and humidity.

Visitors to the park are reminded of the importance of keeping to the trails, as this helps maintain habitats and preserve biodiversity. A map with all five faunal habitats in the park is shown below (one brown snake hibernaculum, two eastern screech-owl nest boxes, and two bat maternity roosts).