Poisonous? No, there are no known poisonous snakes around Kootenay Lake.
There are three species of snakes found around the Lake: Rubber Boa, Common Garter Snake, Western Garter Snake. The ones most easily seen along the water’s edge are the two Garter Snakes, particularly, the water–loving Western Garter Snake.
The subspecies of the Western Garter Snake found locally is the Wandering Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans vagrans); the subspecies of Common Garter Snake found locally is the Valley Garter Snake, (Thamnophis sirtalis fitchi). These are the ones which appear in the pictures, below.
The brownish background colour of the Western Garter Snake is one of the ways to distinguish it from its darker cousin the Common Garter Snake. The snake smells the air with its forked tongue.
The scales on the back of the Western Garter Snake are keeled—that is, each scale has a ridge running down its centre. The scales on the bottom are smooth, as can be seen at the bottom of the picture.
This Western Garter Snake has been slithering along the edge of the Lake and stopped to investigate a fish carcass.
The Western Garter Snake is a good swimmer and spends a good deal of time in the water.
The common garter snake, has a darker head and body than does the western
The common garter snake, has a darker head and body than does the western.
This little fellow came up out of the Lake and saw me looking down on him. We stared at each other for a while; I took his picture; then we both drifted away.