NORTHERN PACIFIC RATTLESNAKE Combat Dance
Crotalus oreganus oreganus
©Marc Crumpler (Ilikethenight)
Most rattlesnake species mate during the summer or fall. Females secrete small amounts of sex pheromones, which leave a trail that males follow by using their tongue and Jacobson’s organ as a guide. Once a receptive female has been located, the male will often spend several days following her around (a behavior that is not common outside of the mating season), frequently touching and rubbing her in an attempt to stimulate her.
The males of some species, such as timber rattlesnakes (C. horridus), will fight each other during the mating season, in competition over females. These fights known as “combat dances” consist of the two males intertwining the anterior portion of their bodies, often with the head and neck held vertically. The larger males usually end up driving the smaller males away.