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I was strolling along the Leslie Spit when I spotted a revolting sight: hundreds of snakes writhing maniacally in a rocky open area

Dear Urban Decoder: I was strolling along the Leslie Spit when I spotted a revolting sight: hundreds of snakes writhing maniacally in a rocky open area. What was going on?—Penelope Little, Moore Park

Allow me to introduce you to the sexual proclivities of the garter snake, a resident of Tommy Thompson Park and one of the great libertines of the animal kingdom. Something of a serpent’s Ibiza, the spit is built almost entirely of well-packed landfill, riddled with systems of underground crevices in which tens of thousands of snakes hibernate. Over a couple of weeks in springtime, lusty males emerge en masse from these “hibernacula.” As the females begin to slither out of their slumber, an epic orgy ensues. Amid the festivities, “mating balls” form—male snakes packed so tightly around a female that they literally take the shape of an undulating sphere. Monogamy, evidently, has no part in the rite: each scaly lady is mobbed by a host of suitors before the park reclaims its PG rating.

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