One afternoon, two black mambas

The black mamba under the cupbiard that almost kissed Nick Evans. Picture: Nick Evans

The black mamba under the cupbiard that almost kissed Nick Evans. Picture: Nick Evans

Published May 27, 2024


Durban — Two Fridays ago, Durban snake rescuer Nick Evans and veterinarian Dr Carla Goede rescued two black mambas in Chatsworth and Yellowwood Park respectively.

One of the rescues was a close call.

Evans said Durban has a healthy black mamba population because of suitable habitat and an abundance of the house rat, an invasive species (there are a few other factors).

He said Durban was not the cleanest place, unfortunately, so rats are happy here.

Last Friday Evans and Goede answered a call in Chatsworth for a black mamba in a chicken coop.

Chicken coops or farms and breeders of other bird species will always attract rats, as they come for the chicken feed or bird seed etc., Evans said.

“When we arrived, the mamba had taken refuge in a storeroom, filled with tyres, but the two of us managed to pull it out from between the tyres, and Carla quickly secured the head,” Evans said.

The Chatsworth black mamba, looking to rest up after its rat meal. Picture: Nick Evans

The two went from Chatsworth to Yellowwood Park for another black mamba, in a kitchen behind a washing machine.

Evans moved the heavy, old (yet apparently very reliable) washing machine away from the wall. They did not find the mamba but found that sneaky rats had chewed a hole at the bottom of a broom cupboard, and some nesting material (torn pieces of material, plastic, etc.) was sticking out.

He said rats are in and around most homes he went to but homeowners are often unaware.

“We pulled the surprising amount of material out cautiously. Eventually, when sticking my phone, while recording with flash, against the hole in the cupboard, I could see the mamba,” Evans explained.

“Then, Carla caught a glimpse of it popping its head out the opposite corner, in a tiny gap between the wall, a bit close for comfort to her leg. Luckily she was switched on, and the mamba was terrified, so it reversed back quickly.”

Evans said after removing the remaining material, it was time to grab the mamba with tongs.

“Unfortunately, there was no way to detach the washing machine, so I had to work in a very small, tight space. We both knew this was going to get interesting.

“I reached in under the cupboard with my tongs. I asked Carla to place her open tongs at the entrance of the hole, just above mine. The plan was for me to slowly pull it out, and allow her to grab it. I was down on my knees, and with the machine and pipe, could not back away quickly,” Evans continued.

He said the plan worked but not how they wanted.

“As I grabbed the mamba with my tongs, it flew out the hole at the most unbelievable speed and was headed up my tongs towards my face (remember, I was on my knees, crouched down). The speed of it was incredible! It felt like it shot out in less than a second,” Evans explained.

“Carla saved my life by grabbing it just in time, as instantly as one could. The mamba and I briefly stared each other in the eyes, way, way too close for comfort. A bite or two to the face wouldn’t have been great.

“I moved back, not believing how lucky I was not to have been bitten, while Carla pinned the feisty snake down.”

Explaining whether it was an attack or not, Evans said: “Well, it had been poked and prodded in a tight space, trapped, with nowhere to go. It saw its chance to escape, and I still believe it was just trying to get past us. However, an attack would have been perfectly justified.”

Evans said next time, he would break out the bottom of the cupboard.

He also said there were no rats to be seen.

“Thank you to the callers for calling, and to Carla for keeping me out of the hospital!” Evans added.

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