Have you ever encountered a pair of snakes slithering together in the wild? Do snakes travel in pairs? Is it a superstitious myth, or is there truth to this belief? The answer may surprise you, as we find out in this article.
Do snakes travel in pairs?
Snakes do not travel in pairs as they are generally solitary animals. Most species of snakes prefer to live and hunt alone. Snakes do not form social bonds with one another as certain species of mammals and birds do.
Why don’t they hunt together?
Snakes are ambush predators waiting for prey to come, so they waste little energy hunting. This means they can go for days or weeks without feeding. And as snakes swallow their prey whole, there would be no sharing in a group hunt. So hunting in large numbers would have no advantages.
The only exception to this rule is the two snakes below.
Black-banded sea kraits are highly venomous. Hunting alone in the water poses little threat to the fish because of their slow swimming speed. So they form large groups numbering in the hundreds, making catching their prey easier.
Cuban boas are large non-venomous snakes that inhabit the forests of Cuba. They are among the biggest boas in the world, with some individuals reaching lengths of over 5 m (16.5 ft).
Zoologist Vladimir Dinets who, who studies animal behaviour, observed and documented Cuban boas’ hunting behaviour. He found that these snakes would coordinate their movements to form a blockade at the entrance to caves so they could more easily catch the bats when they tried to fly out.
When do you find snakes together?
There are two times when you might find snakes together.
In most species of snakes, the male and female will come together for mating during the breeding season, which varies depending on the species and the location. During this time, the male will seek out the female by following her scent trail.
When the male finds the female, he will begin a courtship ritual that involves a series of movements and behaviours designed to attract her and establish his suitability as a mate. This can include rubbing his chin against her body, flicking his tongue, and biting each other.
If the female is receptive to the male’s advances, she will typically remain motionless while the male coils around her body and positions himself for mating. The male will then use one of his two hemipenes to insert into the female’s cloaca, a specialised opening used for waste elimination and reproduction, to transfer sperm to the female.
After mating, the male and female will go their separate ways.
In some species of snakes, individuals may come together for hibernation, also known as brumation, during the winter months when temperatures drop. This behaviour is known as communal hibernation.
Communal hibernation allows snakes to conserve heat and reduce the energy they need to survive during the cold winter months. By gathering together in groups, snakes can huddle and share body heat, which helps to keep them warmer than if they were alone.