Black mamba lessons that Durban’s favourite snake catcher Nick Evans learnt after catching more than 100 mambas in 2021
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Durban – Durban’s favourite snake catcher Nick Evans said 2021 was a busy year catching mambas and gathering a lot of information on the snakes.
Evans said that in December alone he had 30 calls for mambas, and 21 of those resulted in captures, including a few by some of his close friends.
“In 2021, I captured a little more than 100, which has been fantastic for my research,” Evans said.
He said other snake catchers caught a number of snakes too.
He said those figures might be terrifying, but there was nothing to worry about.
Evans said the greater Durban area, the eThekwini Municipality, has a population of close to 3.5 million people. He had looked at a few sites for exact figures and some suggested more than that, but perhaps we should say it is a population of 3.5 million.
“In 2021, while trying to network with doctors at different hospitals or other snake removers, I recorded a total of two confirmed black mamba bites. There may have been one or two others not recorded,” Evans said.
He said that was two out of a population of approximately 3.5 million, or about 0.000057% of the population.
“One bite was a real freak accident. A juvenile mamba crawled into a gumboot and the inevitable happened.”
“The second was this month (December), where a man was trying to beat a mamba to death. Attacking a mamba is a bad idea. You don't give them that option to flee, and so they retaliate, striking back. He ended up in hospital, while a snake remover went to take the unharmed snake away.”
“Both patients survived,” Evans said.
He said it showed that black mambas were not evil killing machines that killed people daily. It also showed that your chances of surviving a black mamba bite in the area were very high.
“Death from a black mamba in Durban is very rare,” Evans said.
He said if you think about how many murders, rapes, car crashes and others happen, black mambas were not something we needed to worry about constantly, although people should not welcome black mambas into their homes.
Evans said he recently had cases that showed how black mambas behaved when they encountered humans. They try to get away or hide.
“So, should one encounter a black mamba, just move away from it slowly. Should you want it removed, which I'd imagine would be the general consensus, phone a snake remover. Do not try to kill it or capture it! That's when you end up in hospital,” Evans said.
He also said no one could say for sure whether there were too many black mambas, which was something he was trying to figure out.
“I don't think so. Durban's got great habitat, and thanks to messy people, an incredibly high rat population. Plus, a lot of feral cats (mambas feed on the kittens). Natural prey includes dassies – there's plenty of them – as well as birds and indigenous rodent species (around homes, it's mostly the alien invasive house rat),” Evans said.
He said one also had to consider that many were killed by people, dogs and cars.
“Also, a black mamba is not the most common snake in Durban. There are a number of species more common. It's just the one that's most thought about, and for me, the one I'm most interested in,” Evans said.
He said the point of him sharing was not to create fear or panic but rather awareness and understanding.
Evans also thanked all those who phoned him in 2021 and hoped for many more mamba calls in 2022.
Evans ended off with: “Happy New Year everyone!”