Courting can be a nasty business across all species.
This whole evolutionary driven need to prove oneself bigger and better than the next is not a gentle thing.
It’s that time of year and these two were at mating-driven battle right in the middle of one of my trails.
Clearly, as the bared ground shows, the pushing and shoving has been going on a while. In fact they were still at it 20 minutes later when I came back around on the second pass of my laps.
Lunges that result in the clashing of shells, biting at any soft parts within reach, and shoving matches resulting in the clawing of ground. The battered veteran trying to hold his own on the left, the young upstart struggling to carve out his place in the world on the right.
Meanwhile, she’s just standing around a few feet away, or at least she was standing around until my proximity made her suck everything in, (The males didn't give a crap whether I was there or not, they just kept right at it.) waiting to see which of the two is worthy of her.