KENAI — A Kasilof man has made an unusual discovery for Alaska — a garter snake in his backyard.
George Pierce found the frozen, 1 1/2 foot-long reptile while feeding his dogs last Saturday, the Peninsula Clarion reported.
Pierce has lived in Alaska for more than 25 years. He would never expect to find a snake so far north, he said.
“It’s an odd thing to find here especially this time of year,” he said. “Like it fell out of the sky. Not something you see every day.”
The find, however, is not as far-fetched in southcentral Alaska as some might think, according to Alaska Fish and Game Wildlife biologist Jeff Selinger. The common garter snake is the only species of snake found in Alaska, he said. It can be found as far up as northern Canada, he said.
No snakes have been recorded living in the wild in the Kenai Peninsula, according to Selinger. But he added that it doesn’t mean people can’t have them as indoor pets.
One of two pet stores in the central peninsula went out of business last March. The only other pet store in the area is a Petco, which does not have any garter snakes in stock, according to a worker there.
Pierce lives a block away from Tustemena Elementary School. He wondered if the snake escaped from a classroom show-and-tell. Or maybe it arrived through transport from outside the state.
No pet snakes have been reported missing from the nearby school, according to principal Doug Hayman.
Another possibility is that the snake arrived in Alaska by cargo ship, Selinger said. The snakes live off frogs and insects, he said.
“It is not out of the question one could survive here, but our harsh climate makes it difficult in the winter,” he said.
The above-average temperatures in the area might have been warm enough for the snake to survive outside, but Pierce said the reptile might have been run over by his snow blower, based on a nick on the end of its tail.