A Vernon teen thought he’d come across a rattlesnake on the Stairway to Heaven stairs off Okanagan Avenue. The snake is a great basin gopher snake.

Stair snake identified

A Vernon teenager thought he’d come across a creature from hell on the Stairway to Heaven.

A Vernon teenager thought he’d come across a creature from hell on the Stairway to Heaven.

The teen was walking the popular stairs, located off Okanagan Avenue near Fulton Secondary – where many people use the stairs to exercise – when he met up with what he thought was a large rattlesnake.

Spooked by the snake, the boy moved to the side of the stairs and snapped a couple of pictures.

“This is a great basin gopher snake,” said Pete Wise, owner/operator of Wise Wildlife Control Services, upon examination of the photos.

“It’s a non-venomous species. We have lots of them in this part of the world.”

A great basin gopher snake will curl up and hiss, which sounds exactly like a rattlesnake. They will also wiggle their tail very quickly, trying to mimic a rattler.

Gopher snakes will strike out at humans and can bite, but they are non-venomous.

“Gopher snakes are a grassland species and there are lots in the grass above the road,” said Wise. “They come onto the stairs to sunbathe. There is no den around the stairs that I am aware of.”

A gopher snake can grow to nearly six-feet long, and while it does resemble a rattlesnake, it has a narrow head and a black eye on the head.

If that eye is black, said Wise, “friend of Jack. If it’s eye of yellow, kill a fellow.”

A rattlesnake has an oval pattern on its back, white stripes near the tail and, of course, the rattles on the end of the tail.

Wise said it’s important to remember that the gopher snake – like all snakes in B.C. – is a protected species.

“It’s unlawful to kill them,” he said.

“Give them space. They will move. Here in Vernon, I will act in support and, if need be, attend myself. Identification is the key. Send me a photo and, once identified, we will go from there.”

If you should see a gopher snake on or beside the stairs, Wise said if you have a walking pole or stick you can move the snake off the trail.

“Often the vibration from your foot fall is enough or tapping your stick on the ground,” he said.


Just Posted

North Okanagan car club annual show a huge hit with spectators

People didn’t mind the hot weather as they admired all kinds of vintage vehicles at 25th annual show

North Okanagan mayor’s win benefits school lunch programs

Christine Fraser of Spallumcheen won $1,500 in SILGA draw, which goes to not-for-profit programs

Vernon Vipers name Connor Marritt captain

Takes over from graduating veteran, and fellow Okanagan native, Jagger Williamson

Vernon pitcher tosses second no-hitter of season

Jarod Leroux has two no-nos in his last three starts for the BCPBL’s Okanagan Athletics

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Heat, sun and a chance of thunderstorms for Father’s Day

Morning pancake breakfasts and fishing derbies across the region will see sun, showers may follow.

VIDEO: Horseback riding helps North Okanagan residents with special needs

North Okanagan Therapeutic Riding Association needs more volunteers to continue offering sessions

Thunderstorm leaves small fire in the Shuswap in its wake

Wildfire crews are also fighting a small fire near Kamloops

South Okanagan pharmacy restricted from dispensing opioid treatment drugs

B.C. College of Pharmacists alleges Sunrise Pharmacy dispensed treatment drugs against rules

Police seek two suspects and car after stabbing in Kelowna

The stabbing took place on Friday evening on Wilson Avenue. It sent one man to hospital.

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Summerland Health Care Auxiliary completes hospital donation pledge early

$1M contribution to medical equipment campaign completed half a year earlier than expected

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Summerland ready for dry summer conditions

Province has declared Level Two drought, but Summerland has not increased watering restrictions

Summerland pioneers had connection to Middlesex, England

Harry Dunsdon and Richard Turner became cattlemen

Most Read