A woman has captured "incredible" photos of two huge red-bellied black snakes battling it out in what she describes as a "once in a lifetime experience".
Kate Robertson was at a popular birdwatching spot in Wyong on the NSW Central Coast, when she stumbled across something completely unexpected.
"I'd just let myself through a gate when I saw them together, already fighting," she told Yahoo News Australia of the experience on Saturday morning.
Taking her camera out "right away," she started to capture the surprising interaction for longer than 10 minutes.
"[My] heart was absolutely racing," she said. "They started out in the long grass. Really thrashing around, rearing up and slamming each other. I think the most surprising part was that I could hear them hissing!
"They moved out into the open after a few minutes, until then I hadn't realised quite how huge they were... I think that's when they noticed me too. They turned around and had a look at me, decided I wasn't important, and got right back to business."
Why were the snakes fighting?
Despite first thinking the highly venomous snakes were "having an intimate moment," — which happens during spring — Kate later found out it was two males engaging in "combat" to compete for a female snake, something snake catcher Mark Pelley, confirmed.
"[They are] usually fighting over a girl — much like in the human world," Mark jokingly told Yahoo News Australia, which he said can go on for minutes to even hours. "The males fight and the loser goes away."
Kate said there was "probably a female somewhere close by that [she] didn't see". "I hope she enjoyed the show! Definitely a once in a lifetime experience," she said.
After posting the photos to the Snake Identification Australia Facebook group, a snake expert added that while trying to dominate, the snakes may try to bite each other, "however they aren’t affected by their own venom".
'Massive' snakes, but can get 'much bigger'
Kate's post garnered more than 2,400 reactions, with many commenting on her "incredible" photography of the red-bellies often found along the east cost of Australia and in northern parts of Victoria. "Wow you should send those to National Geographic, they are amazing pictures," one person said.
"Holy f they are massive, they must have a great food source, I personally wouldn’t wanna cross their path specially at that size."
Despite the "beautiful" and "well fed snakes" being large, Mark said people can expect to see even bigger ones around.
"These red-bellies are about medium to large size, but they can get much bigger," he said.
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