video of a rattlesnake encountering a rival

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SurfinHerp
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video of a rattlesnake encountering a rival

Post by SurfinHerp » April 16th, 2015, 10:00 am

Hey There Everybody,

Just the other day I was out in a coastal lagoon and came across a Southern Pacific rattler beside the trail. Before I could take any undisturbed photos of it, it noticed my presence and slowly coiled under a small bush. I snapped a couple pics then continued along.


About 30 minutes later I returned to the spot and saw the rattlesnake crawling around on the other side of the trail. This time I decided to hang back, take a few pics, then record video from about 25 feet away.


Here's what I saw (it gets good near the end)....





After I came home and studied my video and photos, I learned that the first snake seen in the video was not the same snake that I had originally seen at the spot. At the time, I just assumed it was the same snake because it was about the same size and had a very similar pattern.

Actually, the original snake I saw was the one that came charging out of the burrow and chased the second snake into the bush. Apparently it had retreated down into its burrow after my first encounter with it, only to come charging out while I was recording the second snake.

I was hoping they were males and would begin fighting in the bush, but it didn't happen. I stood still for a few minutes and tried to observe what was going on under the bush. I could hear some occasional shuffling sounds, but I couldn't see anything. I slowly walked around to the other side and saw one of the rattlers exiting towards the burrow. It saw me and retreated under the bush again. Then I left the scene for a little while. When I returned about 10 minutes later, both snakes seemed to be gone from the bush and were probably back down in the burrow.


So, here's my interpretation of what was going on...

The original rattler was probably a female. It had left its burrow and crawled only a short way before I found it. After I left the scene the first time, it went back into its burrow.
The second snake was probably a male searching for a mate. I came across it as it was tracking the scent of the female back to the burrow.

What I don't understand is why the 'female' aggressively chased the 'male' away and followed it into a bush.
Also, if they were copulating in the bush, they didn't take very long. I assume copulation lasts for many minutes or even hours, but what do I know?

Can anybody here on FHF explain the behavior seen in the video to me??


Cheers,

Jeff

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: video of a rattlesnake seeking out a mate and finding on

Post by Bryan Hamilton » April 16th, 2015, 11:04 am

Both snakes look like males to me. They both have big, thick tails. The behavior is consistent with male fighting as well.

What made you think the snake in the burrow was a female?

Nice observation either way. Its really cool how that snake shot out of the burrow. Rattlesnakes are incredibly social animals. This wasn't something I always appreciated but I do now.

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SurfinHerp
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Re: video of a rattlesnake seeking out a mate and finding on

Post by SurfinHerp » April 16th, 2015, 4:08 pm

Thanks Bryan!
The main reason I thought the snake that came out of the burrow was a female was because the other snake seemed to be really interested in its scent.
Considering your comments, and thinking about it further, I suppose there was likely a third snake - a female - down in the burrow. The male that charged out was guarding her from the male that was tracking her scent.

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Bryan Hamilton
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Re: video of a rattlesnake encountering a rival

Post by Bryan Hamilton » April 16th, 2015, 4:33 pm

I think you're right. With that behavior, there probably was a female nearby.

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Carl Brune
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Re: video of a rattlesnake encountering a rival

Post by Carl Brune » April 16th, 2015, 4:57 pm

Very cool video. Also, "SurfinHerp" seems to be a very apt name.

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BillMcGighan
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Re: video of a rattlesnake encountering a rival

Post by BillMcGighan » April 16th, 2015, 5:49 pm

That was great.
They never knew you were there in the video.

Give me a natural history video like that any day to 100 "man-wrangling-the-dangerous-monster" videos.

:thumb: :thumb:

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mtratcliffe
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Re: video of a rattlesnake encountering a rival

Post by mtratcliffe » April 16th, 2015, 6:40 pm

That's an awesome find - thanks for sharing! Not too many people get to see something like that, and now I know how fast Rattlesnakes can move!

hellihooks
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Re: video of a rattlesnake encountering a rival

Post by hellihooks » April 19th, 2015, 10:17 am

Kinda reminds me of when I was invited to a '3-way'... and it turned out to be NOT the cool kind... :roll: :lol: :lol: :lol:

gabrielgartner
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Re: video of a rattlesnake encountering a rival

Post by gabrielgartner » April 20th, 2015, 2:56 pm

Very cool...I've never seen of/heard of such an aggressive encounter between two crotalids. The "wandering" male didn't even attempt combat...might be worth writing up what you saw in for the natural history notes section of herp review.

Cheers,
Gabe

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