by Sean Bascom

“The combat dance of snakes – rattlesnakes among them – is an affair wherein the obvious isn’t the truth, and the truth is stranger than the obvious”, (Lawrence Klauber, 1972, p. 703). For many years the few people who were fortunate to observe this rarely seen behavior believed that what they were observing was the mating or the courtship leading up to mating between a male and a female snake. However, the combat dance is actually a ritualistic wrestling match of sorts between two male snakes over the right to breed with a female. Unless disturbed, these exhibitions may last for as long as an hour until one of the males tires and retreats.

Below are a group of seven photographs of two adult male Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) engaged in a combat dance. This series of photographs were taken by Sean Bascom of the Idaho Department of Fish & Game after he came up on these two males near the confluence of Panther Creek and Napias Creek in Idaho’s Salmon-Challis National Forest on June 21, 2011.

All photographs copyright Sean Bascom 2011


Click Here to return to the main Snake index