Wrestling Carpet Pythons

Some great footage of two Carpet Pythons (Morelia spilota) wrestling. Recorded by Kim Anderson, Geham.

Carpet snakes wrestling (69Mb download)

Combat is widespread within elapid snakes and pythons in Australia. Richard Shine, in ‘Australian Snakes, A Natural History’ mentions that observers of male combat in snakes often interpret it as courtship or mating, rather than fighting.

The two combatants are coiled tightly around each other, move together very elegantly and sinuously and usually do not bite. This apparently affectionate behaviour, together with the difficulty of distinguishing the sexes, has led to some interesting stories connecting snake copulation with homosexuality. For example, one Hindu legend suggests that anyone who sees copulating snakes will be stricken with the ‘female disease’ (homosexuality) …

However, the ‘plaited’ appearance of fighting males is very different to the positions that snakes use  for courtship and mating. In these latter activities the female generally remains passive while the male moves around in a jerky, excited fashion. Females that want to avoid mating seem to escape fairly easily. After all, the male doesn’t have any arms or hands with which to hold her down!

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