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

There were questions raised as to whether or not this structure actually cost less than $100,000. Scott Robertson, owner of Absolute Contracting and partial owner for Arrowtec, said the building is meant to be
temporary as two or three years down the road, his company’s intent is develop houses on the property in line with the land use designated to the property in the Official Community Plan, which is T4–walk up residential. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
‘This is failure’: Construction noise frustrates neighbours on Victoria Rd. E

The city and business are trying to reduce noise, but residents want the project gone

Eric Schwenck was awarded the Train-to-Train Coach Goldie award by BC Alpine this year. He coached the Revelstoke Ski Club U14s last winter. (Katie Findlay photo)
Revelstoke Ski Club coach and volunteer recognized in the Goldie Awards

BC Alpine recognizes ski clubs, skiers and volunteers with awards every year

Moving the old jail from Third Street West to Carlson Street in May 1971. (Estelle Dickey photo; Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 9171)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for May 13

Local history as recorded by the newspaper of the day

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Mario Bafaro awoke in the middle of the night on April 25 to his home on fire in the Big Eddy. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
‘I didn’t know I had so many friends’: Revelstoke fire victim thanks community for support

Mario Bafaro lost his home and dogs in a house fire on April 25

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Pictured is a bear in Chilliwack in Sept. 17, 2008. (Jill Hayward/Contributed)
Residents urged to stay indoors as bear wanders Kelowna street

The BC Conservation Service has been notified of bear in Cameron Avenue area

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A kite surfer gets some help out of the water from his wife and dog after the wind left his sails on Swan Lake Monday morning. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Downed parachuter on Swan Lake just a novice kite surfer

Emergency calls were downgraded after reports of a downed parachute changed

The first of the extended closures is wrapping up, with the Trans-Canada highway re-opening on weekends for travel. (Jack Stuemple photo)
Trans-Canada highway to open on weekends

The highway will be open starting on Friday for the long weekend

Meghan Thompson and her daughter Kennedy Lanteigne were awarded bravery awards on Saturday for helping to save the life of a baby drowning off a Naramata beach last June. (Submitted)
Penticton mom and daughter awarded for saving baby from drowning

Off duty Penticton fire captain also awarded for saving the boy’s life last summer in Naramata

Rescue crews search for a missing diver in Okanagan Lake at Hot Sands Beach by the William R. Bennett Bridge on Sunday, May 16. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Missing Okanagan Lake diver presumed drowned, recovery efforts continue

Boaters are asked to stay away from the area as crews continue the search

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Most Read