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Watch 2 Snakes Wrestle Together And Form a Nightmarish Uni-Snake

When 2 become 1.

FIONA MACDONALD
8 DEC 2016
 

If one snake on its own is enough to freak you out, then we apologise in advance for this footage of two deadly brown snakes intertwining to form a giant, twisted, double snake. 

 

Filmed near the Western Australian region of Dandaragan, the footage shows what appears to be two western brown snakes (Pseudonaja nuchalis) locking their lithe bodies together in an intimate embrace to form one super-snake.

But don't be fooled. Even though it might look like a romantic dance, this video actually shows two males fighting, most likely over a nearby female, which is a common occurrence in spring and early summer, when the snakes are breeding.

"We hear reports, and even get sent photos and footage, of pairs of various types of snakes that are 'braided' together," Nick Clemann, from the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, told the Herald Sun back in 2012.

"Almost everyone thinks that they are seeing mating behaviour, but what they are actually seeing is a ritualised wrestling bout between male snakes."

So what exactly is going on here, and how are the males actually hurting each other with all that twisting?

If the western brown snakes really wanted to hurt each other, you'd imagine they'd be more likely to deliver a painful bite than dance.

 

But this ritual mating battle isn't a fight to the death - it's instead a show of strength to prove who's stronger and better resourced. The winner will go on to mate with the nearby female, while the loser slinks off, defeated.

"Typically the males will attempt to push one another’s head down, and they will wrestle one another until dominance is established, which can take some time if the snakes are evenly matched," ecologist Jonathan Webb from the University of Technology Sydney told ScienceAlert.

"Typically, after dominance is established, the loser will flee the scene, and the winner will then mate with the female. In some species fights can be more aggressive, with males vigorously biting one another."

But even though the intention isn't necessarily deadly, the battles can still be dangerous for the snakes, as their air supply can be momentarily cut off due to all that squeezing.

And lithe, fast-moving brown snakes aren't the only ones performing these mating wrestling matches - they're pretty common across all snakes around the world, and in rare cases have even been seen occurring between different species.

"The repeated plaiting together and squeezing one another (which makes breathing difficult) followed by throwing themselves apart and then (after taking a few breaths) coiling again, is a pattern of behaviour seen in the males of most Australian snake species," snake expert Mark Hutchinson from the South Australian Museum told Adelaide Now earlier this year.

The air supply problem becomes a little more real when you see the super-sized version of these fights, such as this nightmare footage filmed back in October between two Australian carpet pythons, which can grow up to 4 metres (13 feet) in length:

Or the world's largest gathering of snakes, which is pretty much just 75,000 horny male red-sided garter snakes writhing over each other in Canada to win the affections of a single female:

Nope, nope, nope.

But if fighting over a female looks romantic, the real question is, what does actual mating look like? The answer is actually a lot less dramatic than you might think, as you can see in the footage below. Just like with many trysts in life, the build-up is often better than the real thing.

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