A Close Encounter With a Rattlesnake Battle

A rattlesnake in Sonoita. | Jeff Maltzman

A Phoenix-area resident recently stumbled across two male rattlesnakes engaged in a fight — and caught it on video.

Laura Miller says she was enjoying lunch on a trail off of Cave Creek Road when it happened. "I noticed something across the wash, on the hill, waving, like ribbons caught on a bush or something," she says. "I zoomed in with my camera and saw they were snakes."

Miller says she was fascinated by the spectacle and knew she'd be unlikely to see something like it again. Indeed, this kind of behavior, often called a "combat dance," is generally seen only during breeding season, experts say. Whichever snake wins these battles may win breeding rights if a female is nearby.

The snakes were not close to Miller at the beginning, but she lost sight of them after they rolled a ways down the hill. "We didn't know where they would turn up, so we picked up our stuff and moved away," she says.

Miller managed to get two videos of the snakes' dance; you can watch them below. We're grateful she shared her story with us.




Thanks for sharing. You were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to get this video. I was fortunate to witness this about 5 years ago & also thought it was probably once in a lifetime.

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Those are some Massive FAT snakes! they been eating good! Scared of that!

Good examples of why having a very looooong zoom on your camera is a good thing.

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