West Kelowna  

Peachland man captures video of snake with fish in its mouth on Okanagan Lake

Surfing snake, catches fish

A Peachland man counts himself lucky after capturing a wildlife moment on the shores of Okanagan Lake.

Cary Derksen tells Castanet he was at a beach near Seclusion Bay in Peachland last week when he spotted a surfing snake.

"He was really riding on top of the wave."

Derksen says the first thing he noticed was that there was something in the snake's mouth that was still wiggling around: "there was a snake with a fish in its mouth. He seemed very intent on eating it."

Castanet reached out to wildlife biologist, Michael Dunn of Big Picture Biology to learn more about the type of snake and its predatory habits.

"It is a western terrestrial garter snake. They are often found near water and love eating fish and amphibians," Dunn says.

The common garter snake is an important British Columbian reptile, and is the most widespread snake species in North America. British Columbia is home to three different subspecies: the Puget Sound garter snake, the valley garter snake, and the red-sided garter snake.

Dunn says snakes and all reptiles are ectothermic, which means they thermoregulate using their environment rather than endothermic animals such as mammals.

"Endotherms maintain a static temperature through sweating to cool or burning calories to warm themselves," Dunn said. "Ectotherms, on the other hand, can survive a great deal of variation in temperature (much colder and much hotter than we could survive) but they rely on the environment to cool them down or heat them up."

Dunn says that aside from catching its dinner, the snake may also have been hanging out in the water to try and cool down.

"This garter snake may be cooling itself down by being in the water but it also might be in there specifically to hunt and may have spent the morning basking in order to compensate for the heat that it would lose in the water."

As far as Derksen is concerned, "it was just nice to catch one of those rare nature moments."

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