Univ Adv - Communications
July 27, 2012
Lethbridge is home to a small and likely dwindling population of prairie rattlesnakes, restricted mainly to southwest Lethbridge.
The University of Lethbridge, because of its unique setting in the coulees, is home to some areas where rattlesnakes frequent. In recent days, there have been sightings of rattlesnakes on campus.
Please exercise caution when walking around campus, particularly in the coulees. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and given a choice will retreat rather than strike.
Although some people may find them loathsome, rattlesnakes are a naturally occurring species in a properly functioning prairie ecosystem such as we have around Lethbridge. They are practically harmless and will only strike if extremely provoked or stepped on. They play a very important role in the control of rodents and thus reduce the spread of diseases such as hanta virus.
Rattlesnakes are the color of dry prairie grass and have a very well-defined, triangular-shaped head. They may or may not possess rattles. Lethbridge is also home to the bull snake which imitates the rattlesnake by coiling up and shaking its tail, but it does not actually have a rattle. Bull snakes are not poisonous.
If you see a rattlesnake, walk slowly away from it. Give the snake plenty of room to escape from you. Notify Security at 403-329-2345. They will have a specialist relocate the snake to a natural habitat.
In Alberta, rattlesnakes are blue-listed which means they have undergone declines in population or habitat and may be at risk.
Please remember, it is illegal to kill rattlesnakes, possess rattlesnakes or their parts or damage occupied den areas. Many people do not realize that there are significant charges and fines for killing a rattlesnake in Alberta.