Durban - Pinetown resident Jackie Tindale was fast asleep on Tuesday when she felt a strange, cold sensation on her left shoulder.
A snake had cuddled up with her in bed, causing her family to raise an alarm around 5am that had the local neighbourhood watch racing to her rescue.
“I realised there was something not right in my bed. I put my hand over my shoulder and felt something really cold lying next to me,” Tindale, 60, said of the 1.2m snake. “Its head was on my shoulder. I didn’t realise what it was until I turned the light on.”
Tindale said she called her daughter, shouting “There’s a snake in my bed”, and she asked her mother: “What do you want me to do?”
She said the snake had slithered under the bed when she got up, and her two dogs, which had been sleeping on top, had been oblivious to the drama.
“I was more stunned than frightened. Everybody’s reaction is very different, some people could scream,” Tindale said.
“You read about these things (and see them) in horror movies and on National Geographic but you don’t realise it could happen to you. It’s a case of you wake up one morning and there’s a snake cuddling up to you under your pillow with its head on your shoulder.”
Tindale said she was more concerned about the snake not being harmed during its removal rather than the possibility that it could have been poisonous.
Tindale’s family lodged an emergency call with the Pineridge Neighbourhood Watch, and its chairman, Dylan Jenkins, alerted the local community network SA CAN.
SA CAN founder Brian Jones said he had received a call for urgent support because it was unclear at that stage whether Tindale had been bitten.
“We dispatched snake catchers and advanced life support but the neighbourhood watch people managed to sort out the snake themselves,” Jones said. “It just shows the unity of the community and a neighbourhood watch that is working. And what is very touching is that the men in the neighbourhood jumped up out of their beds to go and assist.”
Snake enthusiast John Aberdeen, who has handled snakes for 20 years– the last one he caught was a green mamba – identified it as an impressive specimen of a harmless brown house snake.
“It had gone under the bed and under the dressing table. I managed to pull it out with a stick and catch it. Unfortunately, nowadays you don’t see them as big as this because people kill them,” he said.
Aberdeen said he would release the snake at Paradise Valley Nature Reserve on Thursday.