It's not uncommon for animals to wander onto the lush grounds of golf courses, but a golfer in South Africa recently happened upon an unusual sight on the 14th hole: two of the world's deadliest snakes locked in a confrontation that resembled a spiraling dance.
The venomous black mamba snakes were seen fighting at Leopard Creek Country Club, just outside Kruger National Park in Malalane, South Africa.
Golfer Cara Treherne captured a video of the black mambas' fight and shared it with the Kruger Sightings YouTube channel and website LatestSightings.com, which documents wildlife sightings at or near the park. [7 Shocking Snake Stories]
The black mamba holds a few impressive titles: It's the world's fastest land snake, the world's second-longest species of venomous snake, and one of the world’s deadliest snakes.
Treherne said it was amazing to watch the snakes in action, and the fight seemed to go on for ages.
"We debated about carrying on playing the hole, but after a little while longer, we decided to drive past them at a wide berth and go to the next hole," Cara told LatestSightings.com. "We found concentrating on golf quite difficult over the next few holes. I feel this was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting."
The sighting was indeed rare, according to snake researcher Melissa Amarello, co-founder and director of education for Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP). It's rare for snakes to fight, and the reptiles are generally not territorial, Amarello told Live Science. And outside of the breeding season, encounters between male snakes don't usually result in a fight, she added.
"But males do engage in non-violent combat for females, which is likely what is happening in this video," Amarello said. "Snakes have only been observed fighting for access to a female, so I imagine there is a female black mamba nearby."
Venomous snakes, like the black mamba, do not usually bite or injure each other during a fight, according to Amarello. Their combat is therefore more of "an elaborate wrestling match," she said. Essentially, the snakes are trying to topple their opponent, asserting dominance.
The dance-like movements are due to the snakes' lack of appendages, which forces them to coil around each other to try and take the other down.
"Combat and courtship are often confused in snakes, probably because people assume that snake fights would be violent," Amarello said. "But they are usually so peaceful that they are mistaken for courtship between a male and female."
Fighting between nonvenomous snakes is more violent, however. Amarello said these snakes fight closer to the ground, and will bite each other.
Original article on Live Science.