DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — When Shaun Wilsey stopped to photograph a lizard while hiking in Castlewood Canyon Thursday afternoon, it was the show nearby that caught his eye.
Castlewood Canyon State Park is located in Douglas County, about 40 miles south of Denver.
Wilsey, a hobbyist photographer who runs the popular Facebook Group "Colorado Photography," noticed two rattlesnakes fighting.
"[I] heard some hissing and looked up and saw these guys wrestling on the trail about 20 yards away," Wilsey said.
Wilsey said the rattlesnakes were more interested in what they were doing than him.
"So I was able to photograph them for about 10 minutes while they wrestled on the trail," he said.
Cameron Young, executive director for the Center for Snake Conservation, said the two rattlesnakes in the video were males who were fighting for a female nearby.
"Males will only fight if a female is present," Young said.
Young said the winner typically gets the female.
"[The] winner will go and coil on top of the female and guard her until she is receptive to mate," he said.
Young added that even if wins, the male might lose her to a larger male if one comes nearby before she is receptive.
"It's fascinating behavior," he said.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) recommends people who encounter a rattlesnake keep at least 5 feet between themselves and the snake.
CPW offers the following tips:
Freeze in place.
"Snakes are often heard before they are seen. If you hear a rattlesnake, freeze in place until you or a companion can locate the animal. ... Freezing movement will reduce the threat you pose to the snake and help you calmly assess the situation."
Establish a safe distance.
"Rattlesnakes can strike to a distance of half their body length, and a good rule of thumb is to put at least f5 feet between yourself and the snake. If possible, move slowly back the way you came."
Leave the snake alone.
"Never, under any circumstances, should you try and catch, kill or provoke a rattlesnake. Fully one-third of people who suffer snakebites were bitten as a result of trying to handle or kill the snake."
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