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Rattlesnake fight ends with loser getting shoved off a cliff in Virginia, video shows

A vicious “combat dance” involving two large timber rattlesnakes was recorded on a Virginia mountain cliff, and it ended in a move many consider foul play.

One of the two pit vipers is seen on video shoving its foe over the cliff.

The brawl was recorded by guide Justin Harris of White Blaze Outdoors, and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources shared an edited version of the footage on Facebook.

It shows the two venomous snakes used their bodies as weapons, slapping and twisting against each other.

This contest had gone on for more than three minutes when one pulled a surprise move, pushing the other snake over the ledge. The loser is seen falling to a rock about 10 feet down, only to bounce and slide off that rock to an uncertain fate far below.

“Well this is probably the most insane thing I’ll ever seen in my life in the wild,” Harris says in the unedited video.

“It’s a good two, three stories drop. Oh my goodness. I don’t know what to say. This is insane. My adrenaline is just pumping. …The is like the coolest thing ever.”

He recorded the scene last month in Washington County, a mountainous area in the far southwest corner of the state.

The bizarre dances are “a highly ritualized competition” used by all three of the state’s venomous snake species — timber rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths, officials said in a Facebook post.

“The objective of the behavior is to determine which of the two is the dominant male, with the winner usually mating with a nearby female,” state officials wrote.

“Males will face each other with their heads and forward part of their bodies raised. Intertwining their necks, each snake will try to push the other to the ground to establish superiority.”

A female is not seen in the video, which has gotten 99,000 views and more than 1,000 reactions and comments as of Monday morning. This includes several people who said winner clearly “cheated,” while others wondered where the loser landed.

“I just pictured a hiker down below,” Angi Seui wrote.

“I would not care to be a referee in that match,” Edward Ingold posted.

“That’s like thumb wrestling,” Miiss Hannah said.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.

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