A hiker stumbled upon a dramatic fight between two male rattlesnakes earlier this week, and was able to capture the action with his phone while keeping his distance.
As Newsweek reports, Nick Engler was hiking along the Grubb Ridge Trail near Bloomington, Indiana with his dog when he spotted the two snakes locked in combat. He secured his dog and gave the animals plenty of space while recording them with his phone. In the video, which you can watch below, the pair can be seen twisting around each other as they battle for dominance.
It appears that the creatures in Engler's video may be timber rattlesnakes, which can be recognized by their yellowish color and black or brown chevron-shaped markings that provide camouflage in vegetation. They are a state endangered species in Indiana.
Timber rattlesnakes are venomous, but are relatively docile and rarely bite unless disturbed. They can grow to 7ft in length, and this pair seem to be quite large.
So apparently this is two males," said Engler. "They are competing for breeding rights for a female that is likely nearby. And there are also probably other males 'waiting' to compete as well. I did not know this at the time and would not have stuck around filming for eight minutes if I had."
According to Smithsonian's National Zoo, breeding season for timber rattlesnakes takes place between spring and late summer, so the pair may indeed have been fighting for dominance. The snakes are solitary animals, but human encounters are more likely during this period as the makes seek out and compete for females.
Timber rattlesnake bites are rare, but you can reduce the risk by staying on existing trails and keeping your wits about you. Don't roll logs over, or put your hands on rocky outcrops where the snakes may hide. For more advice, see our guide what to do if you see a snake on the trail.
- Best binoculars and monoculars: watch wildlife from a safe distance
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.