Motherboard

Watch a Baby Iguana Run for Its Life From a Terrifying Pit of Snakes

The first episode of "Planet Earth II" proves that nature is, indeed, scary.
November 8, 2016, 10:49am
Photo via Scott Ableman/Flickr

This article originally appeared on Motherboard.

Hold onto your butts because this scene from the new Planet Earth II will have you leaping off your seat.

The much-acclaimed show made its triumphant return to BBC One last night to the tune of some 9.2 million viewers. Once again narrated by world-renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough, the premiere followed the lives of island-dwelling species around the world. On the volcanic shores of the Galápagos' Fernandina Island, the story of a tiny marine iguana left many people saying to themselves, "that's enough nature for today."

Amazing footage: a hatchling sea iguana makes a run for its life to the safety of the shore, but will it escape the runner snakes? pic.twitter.com/c9zIhyed4y
— Rob S⬅︎Silver Surfer (@RobPulseNews) November 6, 2016

Like miniature, beach-loving Godzillas, marine iguanas prowl the Galápagos Islands not for flesh, but for seaweed and algae. These gentle giants can reach lengths of up to five feet, but as juveniles are especially vulnerable to predators like raptors, crabs, and, apparently, pits of Galápagos racer snakes.

Much to the horror of audience members, our young iguana was shown running for its life away from a seemingly-endless onslaught of Galápagos racers. When it scrambled, the snakes would strike. No matter how fast it sprinted across the sandy coast, the snakes were always dangerously close behind. At one point, it didn't look like the determined reptile would make it, but with surprising agility for a clunky lizard, it managed to escape to safer grounds—for now.

Galápagos racers are endemic to the archipelago, and are actually known to hunt for fish, a "unique behaviour of terrestrial snake not observed anywhere else is the world," according to the Galapagos Conservation Trust. While most of their fare is comprised of small lizards, geckos, and mice, it's not unheard of for these snakes to snatch a marine iguana when the opportunity arises.

While I personally believe that marine iguanas are undeniably charismatic, the clever editing of Planet Earth producers, along with the trusted appeal of Attenborough, allows viewers to consider the fate of species we might've otherwise never cared about.

As The Times noted, with each episode, Attenborough asks us "to fall in love with a natural world embarrassingly red in tooth and claw. To do that he needs to make us empathise with its most colourful and jeopardised inhabitants."

Still, the show's most important takeaway isn't the outcomes of individual animals, but the long-term survival of these species in the age of man. Do you want to live in a world without adorable marine iguanas that make for some of the most gripping TV scenes of the year? I don't.