Wild snake footage sparks warning of upcoming baby boom: 'Very rare'

The snakes were spotted locked in battle and their 'bizarre' behaviour hints at a unexpected change this year.

Snakes fighting on the roof in stills from a video.
The Queensland residents thought the two snakes were mating on their rooftop but snake catchers say it was two males fighting. Source: Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7

Experts say rare footage of two male snakes combating means we could be about to see more snakes hatching than ever with an exceptionally early start to the breeding season. The two coastal carpet pythons were captured in a “rambunctious” battle on top of someone’s roof, shocking snake catchers.

“We’ve not seen this — males combating in winter this early — in nine years,” Brandon Gifford from Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7 told Yahoo News Australia, adding that it was very likely that a female snake was nearby.

In the clip posted online, the pair of snakes can be seen rearing up and trying to overpower one another in Gympie, north of Brisbane. While the locals filming suggested that the pythons were mating, Gifford said they were actually combating, which can look more like a “ritualised dance than a fight”, with the snakes trying to push one another down until one eventually gives up.

Gifford says it's odd for winter, a time he says is "typically a “cooling off period” for snakes, when they brumate — which is a type of hibernation — and only pop out of their hiding spots if it’s really warm,"

However, he added that this year the unseasonably high temperatures at the moment have lured them out of hiding and straight into action early.

“I think the snakes had that cold winter period, and then they just immediately had a hit of heat, and as soon as the heat starts back up, snakes switch straight into breeding mode,” the snake catcher explained. “And they’re like, ‘Okay, we're ready to go’.”

Which is “100 per cent what happened here”.

“There was probably a female in the area and two males ran into each other, and they just went for it,” Gifford said.

And if there are more snakes out there, doing their thing, it can only mean one thing.

Gifford says it means we need to be ready for an early and busy breeding season. “I’ve never seen snakes combatting this early,” Gifford said.

“So it wouldn't surprise me if we see early clutches this year. Like if we see females sitting around on their eggs a bit earlier than last year, and last year it was earlier than the year before, so it's just been bizarre.”

Usually the breeding season kicks off at the end of August, but we could be looking at some late July births, leading to a greater snake population.

“They can double clutch, like they can do one at the start of the seasons and one at the end,” Gifford said. “It's very rare for pythons, but some species definitely can get two clutches in.

“And if the season's right, you just see more individuals breed, and after the last few years of all this wet, they're just taking full advantage of it.

But it doesn’t mean they will all survive.

“I wouldn't say we will get heaps more, but we'll certainly have more snakes hatching out, and then that will even itself out over the coming years,” the snake catcher explained.

“But most of them will also be eaten.”

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