A TRIO of snakes have been filmed competing against each other in a bizarre “dance” to attract a female.
Student Claire Ciafre spotted the three venomous pit vipers in a pond in Alabaman, US, last month.
The clip, which has since become viral, initially started off with two of the reptiles bizarrely wrapping each other around themselves.
Out of the corner of the screen, a third slowly slithers in and becomes entwined in the battle.
As the race to win the attention of a mate heats up, the snakes pick up the speed.
Their dance becomes so aggressive that they start to force themselves beneath the water’s surface.
For a brief moment, they become untangled before taking one another down again.
At first, Claire had no idea what she was filming but discovered later on that she had captured three male cottonmouths battling for mating rights – a behaviour that is not often witnessed in the wild.
“I actually happened upon the cottonmouths while doing work for my thesis,” said Claire, who is studying new wetland plant communities.
“I’ve been helping members of the Austin Peay State University (APSU) herpetology lab catch cottonmouths for their research, so I’d certainly seen them before.
“I’d never seen that behaviour, however, and incorrectly assumed they were mating.
“I thought it looked cool and figured it would make my lab-mates jealous, so I took the video.”
The trio battled for about 10 minutes, but these bouts are known to go on for hours.
“The two ‘losers’ will ultimately give up and leave,” Ciafre said in an article on the APSU website.
“I imagine that the losers either get too exhausted to continue or just realise it’s not worth the effort.
“This means that only the biggest, strongest and/or healthiest males will contribute to the gene pool.”
Thousands of people have seen Claire’s video since it was posted to Facebook last month.
Days ago, a giant python was discovered camouflaged in furniture.