HERBERT, Sask. - Staff at a hospital in southwestern Saskatchewan have found themselves dealing with a slithery problem.
It started when a snake was seen sliding down a hall at the hospital in Herbert, about 200 kilometres west of Regina.
Others soon followed - a half-dozen in all.
Garter snakes had turned a crawl space beneath the hospital into a warm den for the winter and began to emerge as spring approached.
Hospital officials say the crawl space has been sealed off and no more of the small garden snakes have made it into the hall - but about 100 have been captured in traps down below.
Bryce Martin, a spokesman for the Herbert Health Centre, says there's no plan to kill the snakes, which aren't poisonous.
"We are not looking to exterminate the snakes," he said. "We are looking to let them find their natural seasonal migration out of their hibernation areas and just find a spot elsewhere."
The crawl space will be snake-proofed this summer to ensure its inhabitants don't return in the fall.
Martin offers another idea.
"One option that's being explored is to trench around the entire perimeter of the building and provide a hard-pack fill of gravel, which would then be covered and serve as a deterrent against the snakes returning to this environment."
Garter snakes are harmless, but they can be a pain.
Area resident Pam Schaitel had them at her farmhouse. She says it took a lot of work to get rid of them.
"We had to have a guy come out with a backhoe and dig up the basement, dig up a ball of snakes, and fill the basement back up with dirt.
"They have hundreds of babies each. They are very hard to kill. Nothing kills them ... nothing short of actually chopping them in half."
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