Watch: It’s mating season and snakes are wrestling for romance
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Love is in the air ‒ with snake mating season as summer temperatures kick in and the slithery reptiles are out and about.
But it may not all be about getting caught out in the act: the stars of Snakes in the City television reality series, Simon Keys and Siouxsie Gillett were recently called out to capture a trio of male spotted bush snakes which were fighting over a female, who had already made a quick escape from their romantic intentions.
Having recently arrived back in Durban to film the next season of the internationally acclaimed National Geographic Wild series, Gillett, who is a qualified herpetologist, said: “This is a time of year that you are likely to see more than one snake together; they are usually solitary creatures.
“Often people see two or more snakes together and think it may be snakes mating, but it is more than likely two males fighting for dominance.
“Intriguing too is that the male snake has spent the winter in hibernation not eating and is hungry, but would rather mate at this point than find food,” said Gillett.
“Surprisingly, some species like our famous black mamba will combat in a non-violent way for the female by attempting to dominate the other male by almost entwining around, and laying on top of the other male, often misunderstood as two snakes mating.”
She said most snakes lay eggs and leave them, while some snakes such as pythons (rock python) and king cobras will incubate their eggs.
“King cobras even build a nest for them. Some, like adders, even give birth to live young.
“So now’s the time to watch out for fighting and mating and soon for the babies to be out and about. And we are happy to come and remove them and place them in a safe natural environment.”
Her partner in the series, Simon Keys, said the world of snake mating and reproduction “is quite a fascinating one. For example, female snakes produce a strong scent to attract males, leaving a scent trail so males can find her. And during mating season could attract a whole mass of snakes who have followed her scent, who all end up fighting for her ‒ quite a scary sight for an untrained eye”.
Well-known local herpetologist Nick Evans said he had a busy long weekend, which included removing four black mambas in Clare Estate, Reservoir Hills, Mariannhill and Bellair.
“The large gravid (pregnant) black mamba in Clare Estate was removed from the paving that led to the front door,” he said, adding that males will wrestle with each other over a female, but generally will not bite one another.
“Although once, there were two Mozambique spitting cobras that were mauling each other, it was hectic,” he said.
Evans added that an unusual trend this season was being called out to remove highly poisonous vine (twig) snakes.
“I have had a lot of calls about vine snakes, around 20, which included a pair in Westville North and four snakes together (two males and two females) in Wyebank. There is no anti-venom and they are highly venomous, but vine snakes rarely bite,” he said.
The Snakes in the City Hotline for snake removals is 063 234 6932 and is free of charge while they film the series in and around Durban, or call Nick Evans on 072 809 5806.