Spring Has Sprung for These Horny Canadian Snakes

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This snake is ready to get its groove on.
This snake is ready to get its groove on.Photo: Bianca Lavies

You don’t have to suffer from a crippling fear of snakes to get genuinely creeped-out by the idea of 75,000 of ‘em waking up from a wintry slumber and wriggling out to get their freak on. This happens ever damn year at the Narcisse Snake Pits in Manitoba, Canada, and people legitimately travel there to watch a horrifying number of red-sided garter snakes poke their little heads out of the underground dens where they’ve been snoozing all winter.

The most noteworthy part of this exodus is that there are 10,000 male snakes to every one female snake, so the dude snakes wake up first and head outside to wait for the babe parade to begin. As one biologist described it, “Once she gets up off the floor, she’s sort of swarmed by all of them.” This garbage move is also known as a “mating ball.” Does this prove that snakes are scientifically creepy? Maybe!

From there, the details of them getting down is pretty intense, so I’ll let the pros break it down.

A female secretes pheromones from her skin, luring dozens to hundreds of males that try to court her by rubbing their chins along her back and flicking their tongues. She ultimately decides when she is ready to mate by a mysterious mechanism called cryptic female choice.

The closest male wins and leaves a stinky plug inside her that tells others to back off. She can wait a couple days for the plug to dissolve and mate with another snake, or she can slither off into the swamps to feed and give live birth to her babies in August.

As a bonus, the lady snakes can store sperm for later use. I’m neither a snake nor a scientist, but it seems like there would be plenty of snake sperm to go around. In any case, the odds are definitely in her favor.