These two rat snakes were spotted battling it out near a Beach in southwest Sri Lanka.
While the reptiles’ frantic writhing could be mistaken for mating, they are actually fighting — which you can tell by the way they continuously raise their heads above each other.
This technique of twisting their bodies around one other like in a braid pattern, while attempting to display dominance by pinning their opponent to the ground is known as “plaiting combat,” according to National Geographic.
Rat snakes commonly prey on small rodents like mice and rats — hence the name — but they also eat birds, frogs and lizards. In Sri Lanka, the native species Ptyas mucosa are also known as dhamans and can grow up to 10 feet long.
They bear some resemblance to king cobras and Indian cobras, which regularly prey on rat snakes. They sometimes mimic their predators by puffing up their necks and making a growling sound when threatened. Unfortunately for rat snakes though, humans often mistake them for the highly venomous cobra and kill them.
Males will fight for dominance to mark their territory and win the right to mate with a female. These battles can last up to an hour until the victor subdues his rival and proves his worth.
Although they can defend their territories aggressively and move quickly, most species of rat snakes are nonvenomous and they are generally considered harmless to humans.