Web Stories Thursday, April 25

In what is believed to be the first encounter captured on video, two wild snakes in Colombia were caught fighting over a meal recently in their natural habitats.

Danish researchers Henrik Bringsøe and Niels Poul Dreyer published a study on March 22 in Herpetozoa, an open-access journal, highlighting the startling phenomenon.

The two red-tailed coral snakes were caught on video struggling to take a caecilian (which looks a lot like an earthworm) from the other.


This incredible scene marked “the first documented instance of kleptoparasitism within the Elapidae family in the wild,” Viral Press reported.

Many snakes are difficult to study in the wild because of their “secretive habits,” researcher Bringsøe noted.

“Kleptoparasitism, a phenomenon in which one predator steals food from another, is well-documented across various animal species but has rarely been observed among snakes in their natural habitats,” Viral Press also reorted.

The tug-of-war action between the two Micrurus mipartitus snakes showcases the dominance of the reptiles both over the amphibian and each other.


Elapid snakes are known for being a formidable force in the animal kingdom. This includes other species such as mambas, cobras, kraits, taipans, tiger snakes, death adders, sea snakes and coral snakes, Bringsøe told Fox News Digital.

snakes biting meal

The impressive display took place in the rainforests of Valle del Cauca in western Colombia, the news organization noted.

As the footage continues, one snake bites the body of the other — a moment believed to be attributed to the struggle and not “deliberate aggression.”

Herpetologists “realize that we should focus more on this interesting behavior.” 

After working hard to take hold of its prize, the losing coral snake lets go of the caecilian — and the winner grabs the meal before fleeing the scene.

Bringsøe and Dreyer noted that this behavior has been observed in captive settings — but two or even more snakes battling one another for a single meal in the wild has not been documented, Viral Press said.

snakes fighting split

“Snakes in captivity do that often when only one prey is offered in a terrarium with two or more snakes. But it is rather surprising that it has not been observed more frequently in the wild,” Bringsøe shared with Viral Press.

The discovery will serve as research for those who continue to look into the wild behaviors of these elusive creatures in their natural habitats, those connected to the incident indicated.

“An important thing for me when I study snakes and other reptiles in the wild is that you will have to devote much time [to] this work. Then I may now and then observe behavior, which is unusual or even unique,” Bringsøe said.

“I have already been in contact with several herpetologists who realize that we should focus more on this interesting behavior,” he said. 

“It may well occur more frequently than we think. So, I think one positive consequence for the future is that our paper can increase the awareness of behavioral studies of snakes: They are important for our understanding of these creatures, which are in several ways still poorly understood. Kleptoparasitism is just one fascinating element of complex serpent behavior.”

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