It’s Spring. The swallows are back in their nest, high on the brick wall of my house near the back verandah. They aren’t the only ones thinking of love.
This morning I was filling a watering can from the tap at the side of the house when I saw a large Red-bellied Black Snake move along side the wall to within 45cm of my boot. (I’m writing this after midnight, so I should say yesterday morning, but that feels wrong.)
After backing slowly away, I went and told my husband about the snake. He said, there it is now, pointing to a black snake near the glass sliding door at the front of the house. No, I said, that’s too quick, I’ve just left him around the corner, and that snake is much smaller. Look, here he comes now!
As the larger male snake approached, the smaller female moved away from the house and started to cross the grass.
Here she goes.
Here he goes, in hot pursuit.
They headed back into the garden where he caught her and started tumbling her around. She broke away from him and shot off, across the grass, very fast. He shot off after her, very fast. They were both very, very fast. As fast as I’ve ever seen a snake move. Too fast for my camera.
He caught her again in the garden bed and they writhed and twisted and rolled. And before I could take a photo, they disappeared under the shrubs. She must have given him the slip because in a little while he emerged alone from under the bay tree and spent ages looking all over the garden bed for her. We saw her slither through the fence and disappear across the home paddock while he patrolled further up and down the fence line.
According to the Australian Museum website:
When courting a female, the male will approach and begin to rub his chin around and over her body, and as he progresses he may twitch excitedly and even hiss and bite the female. If the female is curled and receptive she indicates her willingness to mate by stretching out and allowing the male to align with her.
It looks like she wasn’t feeling receptive! I don’t blame her. He cut to the chase and skipped this lovely serpent foreplay entirely.