Brooklin Lions Wilderness Trail > The Hibernaculum

What is a hibernaculum, anyway?

Hibernaculum constructionOn two occasions in August and September, 2000, Lions and various community volunteers gathered to carefully pile bricks and to toss more on top of those into a huge hole that would become an ideal hibernaculum. The first reaction when we tell people that we've built a hibernaculum is usually, "A hiber-what?!?" When we explain that it's a sort of underground shelter for over-wintering snakes, the next question is often, "How will the snakes know it's there?" At least one person pictured a neon motel sign in his mind.

Actually, the snakes don't need a neon sign. Certainly, there are snakes in the area and we know that they're looking for some place with just the right warmth and humidity as winter approaches. Of course, we're hoping that our hibernaculum, with its large selection of crevices at various depths between loosely-packed bricks and paving stones will provide that ideal environment.

As Lions member John Hulley and his wife Barb reported on October 21, 2000, it seems to be working out:

In the valley yesterday & Barb walked up to the hibernaculum. About 2:00 PM on a warm autumn day. A 24 - 30" garter snake was basking on the back wall. As she backed off we watched the snake glide out of sight into a pile of hibernaculum bricks. Appears that they are finding it useful.

For more information on the hibernaculum, check the information for Post 5 in the trail guide.

There have also been reports of snakes crossing the paved path. For example, this report by John Hulley on October 24, 2000:

3:30 on a warm afternoon, partial sun. A 6 - 7" Northern Red-bellied on the asphalt paving at the northern end of the trail. Heading down slope. My first on the site. Lovely little creature in fine colour with 3 (dorsal and lateral) yellowish neck spots.

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