Fighting or fornicating?

Friends Peter and Linda took these shots of two red-bellied black snakes (Pseudechis porphyriacus) in action on their property in south-east Queensland. These snakes are highly venemous  to people but not particularly aggressive, prefering to slither quickly away. Peter took a fantastic video, too, but here I’ll post just some of his photos, with thanks. You have to imagine the snakes writhing sinuously together. All photos by Peter Scharf.

Red-bellied black snake about to encounter another

So are they fighting or fornicating? Opinions differ, and I’m no behaviour expert so won’t venture one. Most animals don’t seem to want to seriously harm one other, but just want to prove they are stronger, prettier, have better genes, or can defend themselves, and don’t fight to injury or death except in exceptional circumstances. The human animal could learn a lesson or two from them.

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3 Responses to Fighting or fornicating?

  1. Whoa! What fabulous photos! Looks like love to me!
    If he posts the video, pls give us the link. I’d love to see the snakes in action.

  2. Joy Window says:

    Sure, Patricia. I’m coming round to the idea that they are two males fighting. You can see some other videos of red-bellied black snakes fighting like these at There’s a video (a bit shaky) of the much gentler mating at
    The next one shows a couple of US snakes mating, similar to the one above but much clearer:

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