Matthew Gibb encountered this 'big fella' gopher snake on the popular walking and cycling path along the Penticton channel on April 26, 2021.

WATCH: Penticton man has close encounters with massive snakes twice in one week

South Okanagan residents share space with scorpions, rattlesnakes, black widows and more

Matthew Gibb stumbled across ‘this big fella’ on his walk along the Penticton channel April 26.

Gibb filmed the five foot gopher-bull snake on camera hissing at him before it slithered into the grass and disappeared near the shoreline.

Then again on the morning of April 29 he ran into a fatter bull snake that appeared frozen in fear on the popular path along the channel. Dozens walk or bike the channel pathways each day, some never encountering the large snakes.

The Great Basin gopher snake, aka the bull snake, is a common sight in the South Okanagan and looks much like the endangered western rattlesnake. They even rattle their tails to mimic a rattlesnake when they feel like they are in danger.

The bull snake is just one of the many slithering, creepy crawling critters people encounter living in the South Okanagan.

Great Basin gopher snakes don’t have venom and pose no danger to humans. They can grow up to nine-feet-long but are five to six feet on average.

Their most common food source is small mammals like moles, rabbits, mice and birds. Gopher snakes have a specially-developed epiglottis which increases the sound of their hiss. When scared they can freeze in place or try to get away.

We live among some of the rarest and venomous creatures in the country.

The South Okanagan is home to scorpions, black widows, rattlesnakes, gophers bull snakes, wolf spiders, bats and more.

Recently, while out fighting a human-caused wildfire in the mountains of Oliver, Oliver Fire Rescue firefighters noticed a few albino-like scorpions by their feet. A rare sight, one of the firefighters managed to capture a picture of a larger-sized scorpion and posted to their Facebook group.

Oliver Fire Rescue encountered several scorpions while fighting a wildfire in a mountain in Oliver this month. (Oliver Fire photo)

The Okanagan Valley, especially Osoyoos and Oliver are the home of endangered western rattlesnakes.

While there is an estimated 2,500 of them living in the area, they are endangered and many fear they won’t exist at some point. Their main predator is actually vehicles that run them over and loss of habitat.

They are very shy and use their rattle only to warn that they are scared and don’t want to attack. But they do have venom and our hospitals are equipped with anti-venom if necessary.

READ MORE: The western rattlesnake could become hissssss-tory

Recently, people have been posting pictures of their encounters with large gopher snakes, which look similar to a rattlesnake but they don’t have the venom or the rattle.

One Summerland resident had the most unusual encounter last Christmas when fishing for ornaments in his basement.

A gopher snake made an unexpected appearance in the crawlspace of his home.

Rick Lambert found the snake, around 50 centimetres long, in the crawlspace, figuring it must have come in from the cold.

One person offered to keep the snake as a pet but keeping any snake from the wild is illegal. There are seven different snakes in the Okanagan, including the rubber snake.

READ MORE: Wild snake make surprise Christmas visit

Black widows also live among us, able to produce a venom strong enough to kill a bird. The shiny black spiders with the notable red dot on their backs are a household spider found pretty much all over the Southern Interior.

If a healthy adult is bitten they can expect soreness and swelling around the bite area and possibly a fever but it won’t kill them. Children, the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions are at a higher risk of suffering more serious complications from a black widow bite which may require a hospital visit. Pets are also at risk.

Former Black Press journalist Phil McLachlan took this picture of a black widow living at his Penticton home. (Phil McLachlan)

READ MORE: COVID provides perfect conditions for black widows



monique.Tamminga@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Scotland’s national animal is the unicorn

Your morning start for Friday, May 14, 2021

Phil Hotzon gets surprised with a brand new e-bike after family and friends raise money to replace his broken one (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News).
Friends and family rally to replace Kelowna man’s broken electric tricycle

After crashing his e-bike into Mill Creek, loved ones raised fundraised and replaced it

Young Federico “Fred” Lenzi. (Raymond Lenzi/Contributed)
Italian moved to Okanagan with hope; he ended up being sent to a WWII internment camp

Raymond Lenzi shares his grandfather’s story ahead of Canada’s planned formal apology to Italian-Canadians

City of West Kelowna. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
City of West Kelowna sued over developer fees

Ironclad Developments alleges they didn’t get a chance to provide feedback on the fees

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Jonathan Prest had to climb way up to the top of a dead red cedar tree to rescue a terrified cat, but he made it up and down successfully. (Facebook photos)
Tree cutter rescues cat stuck 100 feet up a dead and dried-out cedar

Jonathan Prest put himself in extreme peril to get a terrified cat out of a dangerous situation

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Joyce and John Henderson were among 25 British Columbians named 2021 BC Achievement Community Award winners by the BC Achievement Foundation. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm couple recognized for their decades of contributions to community

Joyce and John Henderson receive provincial achievement award

Then-minister Rich Coleman, escorted by Victoria Police, makes his way to the east wing amid a protest blocking the legislature entrances before the throne speech in Victoria, B.C., Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. money laundering inquiry testimony ends today with reappearance of Rich Coleman

Responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, Coleman been recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Colin Dowler rests in hospital recuperating from wounds suffered from a grizzly bear attack north of Campbell River. He was able to end the struggle by stabbing the bear in the neck with a knife like the one he is holding. Photo submitted
‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 B.C. attack bring him down

Campbell River’s Colin Dowler gets on with his life as his rehabilitation continues

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport in Richmond, B.C. on Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Meeting police chance to get sense of ‘frustrating’ gang violence situation: minister

Mike Farnworth met with police representatives Thursday following a recent spate of shootings

Most Read