To find out whether your property is within the potential Sharp-tailed Snake habitat that was delineated in 2005 using air photos follow the steps below.
Access the Natural Area Atlas where this information is available.
Step 1: Go to or Click on http://maps.crd.bc.ca
Step 2: Zoom in to your property by clicking and dragging the cursor over the area you live. Repeat this until you can see your property. You can zoom in or out on the map using the icons in the top left corner of the screen. This will allow you to view the nearest polygon to your property.
Step 3: Click on the button.
Step 4: Click on the Natural Areas folder to view subfolders
Step 5: Click on the Terrestrial Species subfolder
Step 6: Click on the Potential Sharp-tailed Snake Habitat layer
If your property is within or close to one of the delineated polygons, there is an increased chance that you live in good Sharp-tailed Snake habitat. Because the Sharp-tailed Snake can live in very small habitat patches they are sometimes found in other areas that were not identified as potential Sharp-tailed Snake habitat.
- Inside or within 200 m from a polygon = 1 point
Clue 2: Landscape context
The Sharp-tailed Snake has been found in forests with open canopy, but not in dense forests. Our current understanding of their dispersal potential is that they will only move distances within a few hundred meters, so it is important to look at the history and situation in which your property is situated. If the house site is a clearing in the middle of a larger stand of a mature Douglas-fir forest it is less likely that the Sharp-tailed Snake will occur here than if the house site is situated in a Garry oak or arbutus forest with natural openings and disperse canopy.
- In areas with many openings = 1 point
Sharp-tailed Snakes need warm spots to lay their eggs, which generally means that they need south to south-westerly facing slopes. These, however, do not need to be large. The base of a crumbling snag or the side of a driveway will suffice. The home range of the snake might not be more than 30 meters in diameter, and only a portion of that needs to be exposed to the sun.
- South or south-westerly aspect = 3 points
- South-easterly aspect = 1 point
Sharp-tailed Snakes need the sun’s energy to incubate the eggs in the nest and, as a result, they are often found in particularly warm spots. Such spots can be in smaller openings in the forest or areas sheltered by a small ridge.
- Small protected area(s) with lots of sun = 2 points
The Sharp-tailed Snake is a burrower, and spends most of its life underground. In order to move around it needs porous substrate such as loose soil, rocks, gravel, decayed woody debris, mulch, and leaf litter. The delineated polygons include areas with appropriate substrate.
- Inside or within 200 m from a polygon = 2 points
Thanks for completing the Sharp-tailed Snake habitat Virtual Habitat Assessment.
What is next?
If your score was 6 or more, you likely have potential Sharp-tailed Snake habitat and we would be very interested in hearing from you. If you are interested in finding out more about the Sharp-tailed Snake, we can offer a consultation followed by an on-site assessmentat your convenience. If the site is deemed to have suitable habitat, we can set up artificial cover objects (ACOs) that are used to attract the Sharp-tailed Snake, so that we can learn more about them. As the snakes are usually found burrowing in woody debris or hiding under rocks and logs, searching for them can often lead to inadvertent destruction of habitat. To avoid this, we use ACOs in order to search for the snakes in a manner that does not disturb the natural habitat of the snakes.
If you think you might have potential Sharp-tailed Snake habitat or if you think you have seen a Sharp-tailed Snake, please contact:
Salt Spring Island Conservancy offers Stewardship and outreach programs and can be contacted at:
If you live on other Southern Gulf Islands or on Southern Vancouver Island you can contact the following agencies and let them know that you think that you live in potential Sharp-tailed Snake habitat. The contact information follows:
Habitat Acquisition Trust:
Pender Island Conservancy Association:
Galiano Island Conservancy Association
Mayne Island Conservancy