By: Wendy Langhans
The other day MRCA Ranger James Latham stopped by my desk. He had a big grin on his face. “I have the most fantastic photos! These two rattlesnakes were dancing! Right along the side of the road in plain sight.”
“Oooo”, I grinned back. “Have you downloaded them yet? Can I see?”
There they were - two western diamondback rattlesnakes in a locked upright and vertical position - a tango embrazo - while their tails were entangled in a gancho position. Now all we needed was bandoneón playing an Astor Piazolla melody.
It sounds so utterly romantic. But reality was a far different story. For these were two male rattlesnakes and this wasn’t a Tango Milonguero; it was a ritual “combat” to determine dominance. Often the larger male quickly forces a smaller male to the ground. But if they are more equally matched, the combat can go on for a longer time. The winner gets to court the nearby female and the loser slinks off into the bushes.
Normally spring is the breeding season for western diamondback rattlesnakes. So when James said he took this photo on August 12, I was surprised. I have heard that in Arizona, these snakes also have a second breeding season in the late summer/early fall.
So perhaps that’s it. Or maybe these snakes have been watching too much pro wrestling on cable TV. This is Hollywood, after all.
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