Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Eastern Coachwhips- Fighting or Mating??

A friend of mine was fortunate to come across and photograph a pair of coachwhips that he believed were fighting. Fighting among male snakes known as a "combat dance" is a competitive behaviour when competing for females during mating season.
Note the bite marks on each snake below denoting the aggressiveness of the bites. When coachwhips bite they have a tendency to jerk back allowing their teeth (that are curved towards the back of their mouth like most snakes) to tear into the flesh of the prey.
Later he sent me a short video he captured that got me to thinking- are these two males fighting or a male and female mating? In some species during mating the male will bite the female while trying to copulate with her, but in such an aggressive way? I'm of the opinion that it was a male and female mating. To view the video go here and if anyone has an opinion let me know. I found a video on YouTube of two male rat snakes (looks like yellow-bellied racers to me) fighting for comparison. Go here. Interesting stuff.

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Blogger Camera Trap Codger said...

I am not a herpetologist, but I would say it looks like fighting. The mating snakes I have seen were not as damaging. I am sending your post to a friend who knows this stuff very well, and I'll let you know what he says, if he doesn't respond directly himself.

By the way, these are excellent photos and a neat find.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Jace Stansbury said...

Thank you sir for the help which is much appreciated. I look forward to hearing from him.


5:26 PM  
Blogger Camera Trap Codger said...

My herpetologist friend said "it could be either, but more likely fighting." I guess the telltale evidence for mating would be intertwining of the tails etc. Some mammals have very violent courtship -- for example horses and rhinos, but I never knew snakes drew blood. I'm learning new things.

10:39 AM  

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