photo by Michael Schwartz
For the second day in a row I'm posting a photo taken by someone else. Call me a slacker, I don't care. When the photos are this remarkable, you can call me whatever you want to.
Many thanks to Michael Schwartz for this one. You know Michael--he and his family are the famous hosts of Pie Night. They were hiking in Big Santa Anita Canyon the other day when they came across two rattlesnakes deeply involved in a twisted, passionate drama in the middle of the trail. The family was unable to pass for a solid twenty minutes. Knowing it's better to be inconvenienced by a rattlesnake than to inconvenience one (nevermind two), they passed the time taking pictures and being fascinated.
Later, Michael did some research and learned that despite appearances, the snakes were not mating. From Aquarium of the Pacific's page about the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake: "If two males compete for the same female, they may perform a combat dance. In this display the two males coil around each other and push up to a third of their bodies over the ground. Since the snakes have no limbs to maintain their balance, both snakes promptly topple over. This encounter can be repeated for over 30 minutes. Eventually, one snake, usually the smaller of the two, retreats."
Or, in Michael's words, "two males doing some kind of boy-thing - ritualistic competition for the favors of a female."
Thanks for not being a slacker under the circumstances, Michael. I don't think I would have been able to hold the camera steady.