Seventh-graders on a field trip in Northlake, Texas witnessed Mother Nature at her finest on Monday.
A western rat snake was seen wrapped around a large red-tail hawk, which was likely hoping to make the serpent its next meal. The middle schoolers came across the wild scene at the Northwest Independent School District's Outdoor Learning Center, a nearly 200-acre site with ponds, wildflowers and wildlife.
At first, both animals appeared to be lifeless — leading the students to assume both were dead. They notified staff at the learning center who went to see the strange interaction for themselves.
In short, neither the snake nor the hawk was killed.
Either the reptile or the bird let go of the other, though it’s not clear which one relinquished its hold first, per a Texas Parks and Wildlife-DFW Urban Wildlife Facebook post which describes the scene. The social media message had more than 4,000 reactions and 2,000 shares as of Thursday morning.
“The hawk flew off and the snake slithered away. What an experience!” the wildlife agency wrote.
In a separate statement, the Texas Parks and Wildlife called it a “life-or-death battle."
“The ol ‘I’ll let go when you let go,’” one person joked.
“The snake is a nice size meal but not too large for the bird. Just didn't kill it fast enough. Never stop fighting for your life. Even if it only pays off once, once is enough,” another commented.
“When your food fights back,” a user joked.
The rat snake is one of the most “commonly encountered species of non-venomous snake in North Texas,” the Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center says. It noted this is especially true for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
While these reptiles don’t pose a threat to humans, they are known to use constriction to kill their prey.
"The snake strikes out, secures a grip with its teeth and immediately wraps its body around the animal. Once the coils are around the animal, the snake flexes its muscles as the prey exhales. This prevents the prey from inhaling another breath and it eventually dies of suffocation,” the research center explains on its website, noting rat snakes are “bold and ready to defend themselves from perceived threats.”
Red-tailed hawks, on the other hand, are known to feed on snakes, rats, rabbits and other small mammals, birds and reptiles. The creatures typically spot their prey from a perch above, swoop down and then capture it with their talons, according to the National Audubon Society.
Images of the event were taken by Amy Hollenshead, a coordinator with the district’s outdoor learning center. She did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for additional comment Thursday.