An annual spring ritual draws curiosity-seekers -- those not afraid of serpents--to the plains of central Manitoba, Canada, where the arrival of warmer weather brings with it mating season for scads of snakes.
Conservation Manitoba, a government agency, boasts that at Narcisse Snake Dens "you can see more snakes at a glance than anywhere else in the world." Each spring, tens of thousands of non-poisonous, red-sided garter snakes emerge from their subterranean winter homes to bask on the balmy plains and reproduce.
The mating dance -- it’s more of a slither -- is quite the spectacle, and a lopsided one too. For every female, there are 5,000 males, which means the sparse females are covered by males seeking an opportunity to hook up. The garter snakes are so preoccupied that they ignore human interlopers.
There’s no real harm in picking up the slithering reptiles, which will likely wrap themselves around a warm, outstretched arm. Travel Manitoba says they may bite, but it’s just a nip. After handling the snakes, you'll need to wash up because the scent the snakes leave behind isn’t pleasant. There are pumps and outhouses on site.