As a wildlife photographer, I am constantly amazed by the unexpected and captivating moments that unfold before my lens. Recently, during a visit to the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, I had the pleasure of witnessing a mesmerizing scene involving a trio of snakes. What initially appeared to be a pair of Water Snakes quickly turned into a perplexing scenario, leaving me with more questions than answers. Join me as we explore the intriguing possibilities surrounding this captivating encounter.

A Trio of Water Snakes

A Trio of Water Snakes

The Discovery:

While leisurely driving along the auto tour road, my attention was caught by the subtle movement near a log nestled within the refuge’s tranquil surroundings. Upon closer inspection through the viewfinder of my camera, I realized there were not just two, but three snakes in the frame. This unexpected revelation set the stage for an enthralling photographic adventure.

The Enigma Unfolds:

Of the three snakes, the largest one lay motionless upon the log, seemingly unperturbed by the presence of the others. The remaining two snakes, much smaller in size, were actively wriggling and maneuvering around the larger one. As I continued photographing, my mind became a whirlwind of possibilities, attempting to decipher the nature of this enigmatic spectacle.

The Mating Hypothesis:

One plausible explanation for the behavior I observed is that the snakes were engaged in a mating ritual. It is not uncommon for male snakes to court a female in this manner. The larger snake, potentially a female, may have been basking in the sunlight while the smaller snakes engaged in an elaborate display to vie for her attention and affection. Snakes intertwining and rubbing against each other are common courtship behaviors among certain species, and this spectacle could be a testament to the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

The Maternal Scenario:

Another possibility that crossed my mind was that the larger snake could be a mother, and the smaller ones her offspring. Some snake species exhibit maternal care, with mothers protecting and providing for their young until they are independent. The active movements of the smaller snakes could be indicative of juveniles playfully exploring their surroundings under the watchful eye of their mother. This scenario would highlight the incredible bonds and nurturing instincts found within the reptilian realm.

The Beauty of the Unknown:

In the natural world, we can’t solve or neatly explain every mystery. Snakes are especially fascinating because of how they behave and interact with each other. They leave us amazed and curious about their mysterious ways. When I visited Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, it reminded me of how complex and wonderful nature can be. It made me appreciate the countless wonders that exist all around us.


As I concluded my time with the snakes, I left with a deep appreciation for the mysteries of the wild. Although I may not have uncovered the precise nature of their interaction, the experience of witnessing such an enthralling display will forever be etched in my memory. It is these moments that remind us of the interconnectedness and diversity of life, sparking our curiosity and encouraging us to delve deeper into the wonders that surround us.

The Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge continues to be a haven for both photographers and nature enthusiasts alike, offering unique opportunities to witness the marvels of the animal kingdom. May we all remain committed to preserving these precious habitats, ensuring that future generations can revel in the captivating beauty of the natural world.

Remember, nature has a way of surprising us, and it is in the embrace of the unknown that we find the true magic of the wilderness.

  • Steve Creek – Wildlife Photographer

Equipment Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500 mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM

Technical Details:

  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: June 1, 2023 (08:48 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f8
  • Shutter speed: 1/800
  • ISO: 640 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: +0.3
  • Focal Length: 500 mm