Durban snake rescuer Nick Evans thought that with the wind blowing strongly, it might be a quiet day. Little did he know he was going to have a busy few hours rescuing three snakes in Mariannhill on Wednesday.
“With the wind blowing quite strongly this (Wednesday) morning, I thought it might be a quiet day. Snakes don’t usually move much on windy days,” Evans said.
He said few animals like the wind, and it’s never good if you want to go birding, frogging, etc.
Evans said that in no time, he was off to the Mariannhill industrial area, where a vine snake had slithered into a warehouse.
Vine snakes are common and very active at the moment since it has been their mating season, Evans said. Although highly venomous, they are extremely docile if left alone.
“This large specimen sat on a trolley, ‘waiting’ for me. It didn’t move until I attempted to catch it. When I grabbed its tail, it inflated its neck, warning me that it wasn’t happy. Other than some of its defensive displays, it was an uneventful catch,” Evans said.
He said he had just reached home when he had to get back in the car and return to Mariannhill. This time it was for a black mamba at a chicken farm.
Evans explained that he gets a few mambas at chicken farms. The mambas are not there for the chickens but for the rats that are attracted to the chicken feed and in turn, those rats attract the mambas.
“When I was five minutes away, I was called and told the mamba had just killed a rat, and it was starting to move,” Evans said.
He said that when he arrived, he found an employee sitting outside the chicken coop, watching the snake.
“It’s always a relief, for a snake catcher, to arrive and see someone keeping eyes on the snake,” Evans said.
He said the employee explained that the snake had gone between the layers of tin roof sheeting.
“Seconds later, the head popped out. I quickly grabbed it with the tongs and secured the head. Unfortunately, the mamba’s body was in the layers of roof sheeting, and it felt like it had wrapped its tail around something. I couldn’t get it out of there, but I didn’t want to release the head. With so little of the neck out, it would be a little risky. It was a small mamba too, making things a little more tricky,” Evans said.
“I started standing up and lifting the one layer of sheeting with my head, and trying to move the other layer with my free hand. The employee came to help me. We struggled at first, but with his help, we created a space, and I managed to get the mamba out.”
Evans said he was relieved but it was quite a tense rescue.
He added that it was only after he caught the snake that he noticed a rat on the floor.
“I thought it had already eaten. The rat it killed was massive. I can’t see how it would have managed it,” Evans said.
He said the picture he took did not do justice to the size difference since he was holding the snake a lot higher.
He also said that if one did not need to worry about coming into close contact with mambas in chicken coops, they would be a chicken farmer’s best friend thanks to their effect as rat controllers.
Evans said that on his way home, he stopped at another property in Mariannhill for a night adder which was hiding in a retaining wall.
He said retaining walls are a favourite hiding place for many snakes, but especially night adders.
“This grumpy specimen, I don’t blame it after I pulled it out of its sleeping spot, had recently eaten a toad,” Evans said.
“Nice to have some excitement! Mariannhill was buzzing.”
Evans also thanked all his callers for the call-outs.
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