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and Reptiles of California







Snake Behavior and Life History - Reproduction and Male Combat

 









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Reproduction and Young
Southern Pacific Ratlesnakes mating Southern Pacific Ratlesnakes mating snakes snakes mating
Steve Bledsoe, ©, photographed these two Southern Pacific Ratlesnakes mating in March in San Diego County. Adult Red Diamond Rattlesnakes mating in San Diego County © Shelly Hancock Two adult California Striped Racers mating in May in Santa Barbara County
© Doug Campbell
Blotched Watersnakes Blotched Watersnakes Blotched Watersnakes Southern Watersnakes
A pair of Blotched Watersnakes pair up in a creek in the Texas hill country. Two adult Southern Watersnakes, covered with duckweed, mating on top of a log in a small pond.
mating Great Basin Gophersnakes mating Great Basin Gophersnakes Red Coachwhips Red Coachwhips
A pair of mating Great Basin Gophersnakes from Lassen County © Debbie Frost Two Red Coachwhips mating in late May. © Mark Pugs
Gophersnake hatching snakes snakes snakes
A baby Pacific Gophersnake emerges
from its egg. © Patrick Briggs
A pair of breeding Florida Watersnakes at the edge of a boardwalk in a Florida cypress swamp in early Spring.
A pair of breeding Brown Watersnakes in a Florida cypress swamp in early Spring.
San Francisco Gartersnake San Francisco Gartersnake San Francisco Gartersnake Western Yellow-bellied Racers
A pair of mating adult endangered San Francisco Gartersnakes  © James Maughn Cheryl Haga photographed this pair of breeding adult Western Yellow-bellied Racers in her yard in Contra Costa County.
snakes snakes snakes Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Thousands of Red-sided Gartersnakes in their spring mass emergence from hibernation, wrestle for breeding opportunities down in the Narcisse snake dens in Manitoba, Canada. A male Red Diamond Rattlesnake guards an uninterrested female hoping to mate with her if she becomes receptive. You can see a video of this pair on YouTube. © Gregory Litiatco
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake Northern Mohave Rattlesnake   Northern Mohave Rattlesnake
Breeding Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes, San Mateo County  © Zach Lim
Breeding Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes discovered together under a piece of tin, San Joaquin County A pair of in situ Mohave Rattlesnakes (probably a breeding male and female) found in a field of blooming poppies and coreopsis on an early April afternoon in the Antelope Valley, Kern County © Brian Blackwelder

Santa Cruz Gartersnakes Santa Cruz Gartersnakes Santa Cruz Gartersnakes Pacific Gophersnakes breeding
A group of breeding Santa Cruz Gartersnakes photographed in late March in San Mateo County.
Snakes were moving constantly in the reeds and across trails heading towards the reeds. They're not easy to see, but if you look carefully at the enlarged images, you can see several snakes in various areas of each picture. © Zachary Lim

Adult Pacific Gophersnakes breeding on a trail. © Natalie McNear
Brahminy Blindsnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake Red Diamond Rattlesnake
The tiny Brahminy Blindsnake is parthenogenetic, the only snake species known for certain be be so. All Brahminy Blindsnakes are females that are capable of reproducing and laying eggs without males. This means it only takes one snake or one batch of eggs to create an entire population, and this is why the species has spread around the world - its eggs, buried in soil, are easily transported in flower pots and by other means. Mating adult Red Diamond Rattlesnakes © Akela Arthur Short Video of mating adult Red Diamond Rattlesnakes © Akela Arthur
Mountain Gartersnake Mountain Gartersnakes northern pacific rattlesnake california kingsnake
A mass of breeding Mountain Gartersnakes in Placer County in early May © Rod This short video shows a mass of breeding Mountain Gartersnakes in Placer County in early May © Rod.
Several males are trying to breed with a female who is somewhere in this pile of writhing snakes.
Male and female Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes mating in a hole in Alameda County © Emily Mastrelli This mating pair of California Kingsnakes was observed on May 8th in a backyard in Sacramento County. © Kim Rowe
northern pacific rattlesnake northern pacific rattlesnake Pacific Gopher Snakes Pacific Gopher Snakes
Adult female Northern Pacific Rattlesnake, San Luis Obispo County © Dan Boyd.

Rattlesnakes don't lay eggs. Females carry their eggs inside until they hatch and the young are born live. This causes a female rattlesnake to grow very large when she's full of babies. The ridges you can see on the sides of this snake are post-partum skin folds formed after she delivered her young. The snake was photographed in late July when females begin to deliver from 4 to 12 live babies about 10 inches in length so she most likely just gave birth. The folds will start to fill out after she eats.
© Chris Mayer.
These three Pacific Gophersnakes were found in early May in Napa County, caught in some garden netting. All three were found alive and cut free. Two of the snakes are the striped morph and it appears the blotched morph snake is mating with one of them.
     
Male Snakes in Breeding Combat

During the breeding season when they compete for a female, male snakes will "wrestle" with each other in what is sometimes confused with a mating dance, to prove which one is stronger. The weaker one is forced to retreat unharmed. There is almost always a female nearby.
Male Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnakes in breeding season combat Male Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnakes in breeding season combat Male Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes in combat Red Diamond Rattlesnake
Male Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnakes in breeding season combat. © lara hartley Male Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes in combat. © Steve Broggie Male Red Diamond Rattlesnakes in combat, Riverside County
© Gregory Litiatco
male Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes in a wrestling match male Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes in a wrestling match male Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes in a wrestling match Pacific Gophersnake
Two male Northern Pacific Rattlesnakes in a wrestling match over a female in late April in Santa Clara County. The shot on the far right shows a snake on the ground, probably the female, with one of the males above her. During the action, a third male also entered the scene, which is not shown here. © Holly Lane This short video shows two adult male Pacific Gophersnakes wrestling for dominance during the May breeding season in Napa County. © Woody Davis
california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake california kingsnake
These two adult California Kingsnakes were found on a back porch at the end of April in San Diego County. I'm not sure exactly what they are doing, but I believe that they are a male and a female in courtship behavior preliminary to copulation. They don't appear to be two males in combat because they are not wrestling each other very aggressively, but that is also possible.
california kingsnake video california kingsnake video california kingsnake video California Kingsnake
These three short videos show the same two California Kingsnakes depicted in the stills above. This picture shows what appear to be two striped male California Kingsnakes in combat in May in San Diego County. © Sean Kelly. (It's from a YouTube video which has now been removed.)
Glossy Snake Glossy Snake Glossy Snake California Lyresnake
These two adult male California Lyresnakes were found combatting on a road at night in mid June in Baja California Norte.
© Stuart Young
A short video of the same two males seen to the left. At the end, one of them gives up and races away.
© Stewart Young
Gophersnakes Gophersnakes Gophersnakes southern pacific rattlesnake
 Two adult San Diego Gophersnakes all twisted up in Los Angeles County - they were described to me as a mating pair, but they are most likely two males fighting over access to a nearby female. © Chris Mowry
Robert Hamilton's YouTube Video of two male Southern Pacific Rattlesnakewrestling for dominance during the breeding season.
Gophersnakes California Lyresnake southern pacific rattlesnake southern pacific rattlesnake
San Diego Gophersnakes wrestling on a Riverside County rural road in May during the breeding season. © Dorothy Sheldrake. Click the image on the right to watch a short video. This short video shows two male Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes wrestling for dominance over a female snake that is probably hiding nearby during the May breeding season, in Orange County. © Paul Galvin
A short video of a pair of male Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes wrestling over a female in Los Angeles County.
   

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