A collage of MEMORIES

A collage of MEMORIES
A collage of MEMORIES

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Territorial Combat

                                                    Oriental Rat Snakes in TERRITORIAL COMBAT

ORIENTAL RAT SNAKES (MALES)

It was around 1pm this summer. The sun was scorching right over the head. As I got down from the rickshaw, I found a crowd gathering on the road. The commotion was high and they were pointing at something in the bush. I paid the fare and tried to see what they were pointing at. Mom was with me too. As I followed their fingers pointed at the bush, I found two snakes jumping from the bush around 2feet up the ground. They were brownish grey coloured. And they were entangled. Being a freelance photographer, I have seen numerous works by emminent photographers. Many photographs document courtship behaviour. And hence the first thing came to my mind seeing those entangled snakes was that they were mating. 


So obviously it was the best option to let them be in their private moment. BUT the local people made a great commotion. As my mom tried to make them understand that it was not at all a good idea to disturb them in their habitat, I quickly rushed home and picked up my camera and rushed back to the spot again. Its not so common sight of the snakes entangled about 2feet up the ground and hence i had to cover it. As i reached the spot trying hard to catch my breath, i found the snakes more aggressive and ferocious with the chattering people hovering around them. I was shocked as my mom showed me that some of the local people were throwing red clothes (gamcha) at them. What a superstitious population is there in the locality! These illiterate people even taunted at my mom's words as she kept on forbiding them to throw the clothes at the snakes. They were excited with full of pride ; its their belief that the touch of the entangled snakes to the clothes bring luck. Its the colour red that attracts the snakes. How mean it is to disturb the snakes in their habitat! But it was vain to make them understand. People were so close to the snakes that finally the snakes had to retreat inside the bush.


Later on, I found my concept (that the snakes were mating) wrong. After i posted a picture on Instagram an ace-photographer corrected me saying that the episode was not about courtship, but about a territorial combat. Those two snakes were both males and they were engaged in a territorial combat. These Rat Snakes try to subdue each other while entangled ; they try to protect their female partners by this. The snake that loses the combat, has to find a new habitat with its female for reproduction. The whole combat lasts for about an hour or so. Its not a common sight as they fight in a remote place. Perhaps its the rapid urbanisation that led them to engage in combat in an open place. I was hence lucky to catch this sight and photograph them.
The photos are given below: