In your Backyard
Leaving natural areas for wildlife in our backyards is important for all species, including Sharp-tailed Snakes. If you live in an area that has south-facing rocky slopes, Garry oak or arbutus trees, or rocky outcrops, then you have potential habitat for Sharp-tailed Snakes, as well as many other species at risk. Please leave these particularly senstive areas as natural as possible.
Sharp-tailed Snakes are also sensitive to the use of molluscides and slug baits. While newer slug baits are generally much less toxic, they still pose risks to the small meadow and forest slugs that are inadvertantly attracted to them. These slugs do no damage to your garden, and are the primary food source for Sharp-tailed Snakes.
As a Volunteer
Citizen scientists are helping conserve Sharp-tailed Snakes through volunteer monitoring programs. With a little training and committment, volunteers can help HAT and other biologists learn more about the distribution and habits of this small, elusive reptile.
At least once week during the spring and fall, volunteer monitors check artificial cover objects in potential habitat for the presence of Sharp-tailed Snakes. These cover objects are located in areas that are good habitat for Sharp-tailed Snakes, and are sometimes in difficult to access areas. Monitors are asked to record what they find under the cover objects, and to photograph any Sharp-tailed Snakes or other interesting wildlife they find. HAT biologists will setup cover objects with in appropriate areas and show you how to check the objects and record your observations.
What training or knowledge do I need?
While no special knowledge is needed, enjoying outdoor time in natural areas and a little training are required. When HAT biologists go out with you to setup cover objects, they will also show you how to check the objects while minimizing impacts to natural features, and how to record and submit your observations. This is not highly technical - a notebook, email address, and small camera are all that are required. Sites are in natural areas, and are not always easy to access - some physical stamina and comfort in natural settings is defintely a requirement.
What kind of commitment do I need to make?
For monitoring to be effective, you must be able check the artificial cover objects consistently, ideally over several years. At minimum, the cover objects should be checked once per week during the spring and fall months. Checking the cover objects during the winter and mid-summer is not required, as Sharp-tailed Snakes are very rarely found during these seasons. Remember that Sharp-tailed Snakes are famously elusive, and have been at some sites only after 4 or more years of monitoring.
Sounds great! How do I get started?