They might not have arms or legs, but snakes are incredible climbers. From wall-scaling boomslangs to possum-hunting pythons, we've seen all sorts of serpentine ascents over the years – but this tight-roping tiger snake gets all the style points.  

The video was filmed recently in Tasmania by Matt Dunbabin, owner of local vineyard, the Bangor Vineyard Shed. In the days since he posted it to Facebook, the clip has been viewed over six million times. 

"I've never seen anything like it – the views or the snake," Dunbabin quipped during an interview with a local radio station. "He went quite some distance, and he was still going when I left him. It's a long fence; he could have gone a couple of kilometres if he really wanted to!"

Exactly what the roving reptile (Notechis scutatus) was doing on the wire remains a mystery at this point (herpetologists, get at us!) but we can at least eliminate some wonky hunches and give you our best guess.

Some have speculated that the snake climbed up the wire to avoid burning itself on the hot soil. This is unlikely for two reasons: metal is a great conductor, so that fence was probably hotter than the ground. What's more, these snakes are known to take cover during exceptional heat waves.

We're also calling bunk on claims that the snake was trying to "sneak up" on the vineyard's guests. Not only was this fence located behind Dunbabin's farm – far from any visitors – but that scaremongering hypothesis also doesn't line up with what we know about tiger-snake behaviour. The snakes do possess a highly toxic venom, but they're unlikely to approach or engage with humans of their own accord. 

"Like most snakes, tiger snakes are first cowards, then bluffers, and only become warriors as a last resort," says Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (TPWS). "If threatened, a tiger snake will flatten out its neck, raising its head to make itself appear as frightening as possible."

Our "wire-walking" friend here, however, appears completely relaxed. 

"Snakes are part of the landscape down here, and I was quite happy to see him," added Dunbabin. "It really was an amazing bit of animal behaviour."

Dunbabin's assumption that this snake was male is probably correct. While all tiger snakes tend to roam about, male members of the species are especially prone to wandering. That said, both males and females are known to climb in search of food. 

Tiger snakes mostly feed on small mammals – in fact, they play an important role in keeping invasive rodent numbers down – but when furry food isn't around, the snakes raid birds' nests. Perhaps some avian activity along the fence prompted the snake to investigate. 

We'll be updating this post after weighing in with the experts, so watch this space!



Top header image: TassieEye/Flickr