Viral Video Shows Snake Devouring Another Snake While Being Attacked by Huge Wasp in Florida Backyard

A Florida woman has captured footage of a bizarre animal encounter during which a snake was attempting to eat another snake, only to be interrupted by a large, aggressive wasp.

The viral video was shot by Gainesville resident Evangeline Cummings, who is director of the University of Florida's online bachelor degree program. Cummings spotted the bizarre encounter taking place in her own backyard and started videoing on her phone.

She later shared the clip on Twitter, asking experts if they could help explain what was going on: "Um ok, @UFEntomology and @MartaWayneUF, I believe I just witnessed a BEE stinging a CORAL SNAKE while the CORAL was dining on a RAT SNAKE and I need your support to process this. @UF #FloridaBackyard."

Cummings told Newsweek that initially, she noticed a "stringy thing" hanging in a rose bush.

"As I got closer, I realized it was a dead snake hanging in the bush. So of course I got out my phone to take a picture," she said. "Funnily enough, you can see the dead snake I was focused on but unbeknownst to me there was a coral snake weaving its way through the wood chips just down on the ground below the dead snake!"

"It's only after a few minutes of me standing there, trying to figure out how that dead snake got in the rose bush that I noticed the coral snake was actually winding its way up the bush. So I immediately started filming it. I must admit I'm a naturalist at heart and I really do love Florida's wildlife," she said. "I had no idea the coral snake was actually going after the dead snake. I just thought it was pure coincidence that there were now two snakes in the same bush."

The insect which Cummings originally thought was a "bee" was later identified as a Yellowjacket wasp by University of Florida (UF) entomologist Andrew Warren in a reply to the original post.

In the video clip, both of the serpents can be seen hanging from the branches of the rose bush. The brightly colored and venomous coral snake is trying to devour the rat snake, which appears to be dead.

The wasp initially lands on the rat snake before touching down on the coral snake. Shortly after, the coral snake begins swinging around wildly, as if to try and shake the wasp off its body.

"That's wild! Not sure it actually stung the snake (based on wasp movements) but snake clearly wanted it gone... very cool!" Warren wrote in a post.

How exactly the two snakes ended up hanging in the branches of the rose bush remains a mystery, however.

Um ok, ⁦@UFEntomology⁩ and ⁦⁦@MartaWayneUF⁩ , I believe I just witnessed a BEE 🐝 stinging a CORAL SNAKE 🐍 while the CORAL was dining on a RAT (?) SNAKE 🐍 and I need your support to process this. ⁦⁦@UF#FloridaBackyard

— Evangeline Tsibris Cummings (@EvieCummings23) October 17, 2019

"Don't know how rat snake got there. Dropped by a hawk? So many questions. And how does a coral snake climb the thorny rose bush!?!" Cummings wrote.

Natalie Claunch, a doctoral candidate at UF who is studying invasive reptiles, provided some context in a reply.

"Youch! Even venomous snakes don't like yellow jacket stings. Although coral snakes aren't great climbers, I'm sure a free meal was good motivation. The yellowjacket—which also love meat—must have thought they had claim to it!" Claunch wrote.

In a later post, Cummings suggested that after the rat snake was potentially dropped by a hawk or another bird, it may have still been alive and tried to free itself but was unsuccessful.

According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Eastern coral snake (Micrurus fulvius) is found throughout the state, as well as in North Carolina, eastern Texas and northeastern Mexico.

Eastern coral snake
Stock photo: An Eastern coral snake. iStock

The snake—which usually grows to between 20 and 30 inches in length—lives in a variety of habitats, ranging from dry scrub areas to the borders of swamps. Normally, they like to stay hidden under debris or in the ground, but sometimes they are found in the open or climbing vegetation.

A common misconception is that the bite of the Eastern coral snake is nearly always fatal. This is not the case, although its venom is still powerful and bites usually require immediate medical attention.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the state is home to 44 snake species, only six of which are venomous: the southern copperhead, the cottonmouth, the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, the timber rattlesnake, the dusky pygmy rattlesnakes, and the aforementioned eastern coral snake.

This article was updated to include additional comments from Evangeline Cummings.