Man Immerses Himself In Pit Of Over 75,000 Snakes. If You’re Scared Of Snakes Don’t Watch This!
If you’re scared of snakes, you don’t want to be anywhere near Manitoba, Canada. The Narcisse Snake Dens are famous as being the largest gathering of slippery reptiles on the planet, the limestone caves a mecca for masses of red-sided garter snakes on the search for mates.
While navigating your way through the midst of around 75,000 writhing reptiles may not be everybody’s idea of fun, it’s all in a day’s work for environmental documentary photographer, Paul Colangelo.
The phenomenon occurs every spring when thousands upon thousands of the snakes emerge from the caves in order to form ‘mating balls,’ what are essentially packs of 100 males all competing for a single female.
“The small males court the larger female by rubbing her head with their chins and maintaining as much contact between their long bodies as possible,” he explains in an interview with National Geographic.
Yet according to Colangelo, it’s not much fun for the females, who “is desperately trying to get out of the pit” and escape the hordes of would be suitors.
Thanks to the combination of limestone caves and surrounding marshes, Manitoba is the perfect place for the colossal snake population to thrive. The marshlands offer an abundance of food during the summer months while the deep limestone crevices provide the snakes with a warmer haven when the temperature drops to -40 degrees.
The snakes are not venomous which gave Colangelo the perfect opportunity to really engage with the animals and capture incredible footage that offers immense insight into the way they move, mate and behave.
“They’ll come and investigate you. In the den, they’re not [behaving normally], since they’re so focused on mating. If you’re not a female snake, you might as well be a rock. The instant you sit down, you’re literally covered with them” he said.
While some people might feel sick to the stomach at the thought of getting up close and personal with the frenzied mass of mating serpents, Colangelo hopes his work will help people overcome their fears and realise that snakes are incredibly fascinating animals.
“Getting down on your belly and actually spending time with a calm, [non-poisonous] snake gives you an appreciation for them, and that fear will disappear… After a while spending time in the snake dens, you learn to appreciate their finer points and see the world from their point of view.”
He even goes as far as to call the snakes ‘cute,’ although we’re not so sure about this particular sentiment. “They have puppy-dog eyes, they just don’t blink,” he joked. “They do these cute [behaviours called] periscoping, where they stick their necks up and look around.”