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Indiana hiker captures video of two huge rattlesnakes blocking his path and doing bizarre dance

Snake, rattle and roll: Indiana hiker captures amazing video of two huge rattlesnakes in his path doing rare combative DANCE to fight for a nearby female’s attention

  • Hiker Nick Engler spotted two male rattlesnakes blocking his path on the Grubb Ridge Trail near Bloomington, Indiana 
  • The rattlesnakes were involved in a unique mating ritual that is actually a competition to court a nearby female 
  • Although the snakes are venomous, they were very wrapped up in their own behavior and didn’t seem to notice Engler
  • Indiana is home to 32 species of snakes, four of which are venomous 

A hiker in Indiana had his path blocked by two gigantic rattlesnakes winding themselves around each other in a strange dance.

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Nick Engler was hiking the Grubb Ridge Trail near Bloomington, Indiana, when he captured videos of the snakes moving back and forth in a combative dance as their heads are raised a few feet off the ground.

Engler shared his video on Facebook, where it drew a large amount of comments from people who were alternately horrified and intrigued. 

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A hiker in Indiana had his path blocked by two gigantic rattlesnakes winding themselves around each other in a strange dance

Nick Engler was hiking the Grubb Ridge Trail near Bloomington, Indiana, when he captured videos of the snakes moving back and forth in a combative dance as their heads are raised a few feet off the ground

Nick Engler was hiking the Grubb Ridge Trail near Bloomington, Indiana, when he captured videos of the snakes moving back and forth in a combative dance as their heads are raised a few feet off the ground

‘This is two male snakes engaging in ritual combat,’ Engler commented underneath his post. 

‘They’re trying to assert dominance to impress a nearby female. Neither snake dies and did not in this case, one just slithered away after about 20 minutes of this. 

‘I did not know this at the time and would not have stuck around filming for 8 minutes if I had.’ 

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the state is home to 32 native species of snakes – of which only four are venomous – including the timber rattlesnake, which according to multiple commenters on Engler’s Facebook post may have been the ones he encountered. 

Male timber rattlesnakes are known to engage in a strange mating ritual that looks like a combat dance when they’re both trying to court a nearby female. 

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the state is home to 32 native species of snakes - of which only four are venomous - including the timber rattlesnake

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the state is home to 32 native species of snakes – of which only four are venomous – including the timber rattlesnake

Males timber rattlesnakes are known to engage in strange mating ritual that looks like a combat dance when they're both trying to court a nearby female

Males timber rattlesnakes are known to engage in strange mating ritual that looks like a combat dance when they’re both trying to court a nearby female

In Engler’s video, the female is not visible, but she’s likely lurking somewhere nearby. 

Witnessing such a sight is quite rare, according to experts, because these particular snakes are known to be more reclusive and shy.

‘Rattlesnakes are really secretive animals, let alone in combat, but once you’re there and seeing it, they’re pretty oblivious to the world around them. They are laser-focused on that combat,’ herpetologist Phil Colcouch with Zoo Knoxville told WBIR after a similar incident in 2019. 

Timber rattlesnakes can grow to be 60 inches long and are known for being vivaparous, meaning they birth up to 13 live young rather than laying eggs. 

They can also be found across much of the northeastern US – but don’t usually act aggressive unless they are provoked. 

Engler’s videos sparked a range of comments on Facebook.

‘I should not have watched that. Probably going to give me nightmares. Glad you seen them first. Stay safe.’ one user wrote.

‘Absolutely incredible. A beautiful display. An awesome video. Thank you so much.’ a different user wrote. 

Earlier this month, a nationally-known West Virginia rattlesnake expert died after he was bitten by a timber rattlesnake.

William H. ‘Marty’ Martin, 80, was killed when he was bitten by a timber rattler on his property in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Martin – who was once described as ‘the ambassador of rattlesnakes’ – would frequently hike into the mountains and visit remote locations to document the activity of the snakes and record their numbers.

The other venomous snakes native to Indiana include copperheads, cottonmouths, eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. 

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