Rattlesnake combat dance to see who gets the gal

The males of some species of rattlesnakes engage in a combat ritual to see who will mate with an available female snake. Several years ago I saw two western diamondback rattlesnakes engaged in this ritual at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Everyone gathered around to watch. As a docent then, I warned them to be careful because the female may be close by, and she was.

The video below shows such a dance.

According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum:

“Prior to copulation in the spring, male diamondbacks (as well as males of at least some other rattlesnake species) perform well-documented, ritualized, combat dances. When two males encounter each other they raise their bodies off the ground as much as one-third of their lengths. Belly-to-belly, they begin an intense wrestling contest. Occasionally one snake or the other falls to the ground, only to rise up to continue the contest anew. This wrestling match may continue for thirty minutes or more. At some point, one snake finally gives up and crawls away, often with the victor in hot pursuit. Victors have even been observed climbing into shrubs several feet off the ground, apparently to make sure the loser does not try to return to the females. There are occasions when a third male is present. He does not join the duo at battle, but instead copulates with the females while the other two males are battling. Biologists have termed this the sneaky male strategy. The inseminated female will give birth to as many as 23, 9- to 14-inch-long young in the late summer. Young diamondbacks feed on rodents, and adults also eat rabbits and ground-dwelling birds.”

Watch the video:

https://youtu.be/gAN7Drf7Nns

See also:

Clever Horned Lizard

The Coachwhip a colorful snake

Desert Tortoise

Gopher snakes

Kingsnakes versus Rattlesnakes

Lyre Snake

Metachromatic spiny lizards

Mexican vine snakes

Rattlesnakes

Speckled Rattlesnakes

Spinytail Iguanas

Venomous Lizards