One of the most difficult mambas I’ve ever had to catch — snake rescuer Nick Evans

The stand-off. It took so long, Nick Evans was able to snap a picture. Picture: Nick Evans.

The stand-off. It took so long, Nick Evans was able to snap a picture. Picture: Nick Evans.

Published Feb 29, 2024


Durban — Snake rescuer Nick Evans has rated his recent black mamba rescue as one of the most difficult mambas he’s ever had to catch.

This was a dassie-chasing mamba he was called out to rescue at a business premises in Westville last Friday.

Evans said that when he arrived, he warned the interested and concerned (particularly garden) staff that there was a good chance he would not catch it. He said he thought the snake would surely see him coming from at least 30m away.

“I walked as slowly as I could and to my surprise made it up to the mamba, with only its back third visible. It hadn’t moved.

“I grabbed what was visible with my tongs and my heart sank - there was no movement. Being right next to an electric fence, I thought somehow it died and bounced off. I’ve never grabbed a mamba and not had a reaction,” Evans said.

“But then, a few seconds later, it decided to start moving and I quickly learnt that this was a very large mamba - with a full belly! That’s why it didn't move, it had just finished its large meal.

“It started trying to get away, but I had the tail in my hands, and soon, my African Snakebite Institute tongs on its neck region,” Evans continued.

“I thought it was job done, expecting the mamba to reverse its head back into the tong, as they always do. Not this time.

“This mamba would not reverse. It was like a stand-off. My hands were just out of reach, thankfully.”

A very full mamba after capture! Picture: Nick Evans.

Evans said he had seen a few mambas take a short while to reverse, but none as long as this.

“I don’t know how long it took, but it felt like a few minutes. It started moving its tail around, which I had to make sure didn’t touch the electric fence,” Evans said.

“Eventually, it reversed, and I pinned down the exceptionally powerful snake.”

Evans said it was an old-looking snake.

“I don’t like guessing the ages of snakes, as it’s not accurate, but if I had to, I’d say he’s at least 15 years old, and 2.6m in length,” Evans said.

He said there was a rocky ravine on the other side of the fence, which probably has a good dassie population. He suspects it lived there for years.

“I’d definitely rate it as one of the most difficult mambas I’ve ever had to catch,” Evans said.

The caller took a picture of Nick Evans with the dassie-eating black mamba. Picture: Supplied

Veterinarian Dr Carla Goede who was with Evans, helped him measure and weigh the mamba, before relocating it.

Dr Goede noticed a small cut near the head.

“I’m wondering if it was caused when it squeezed under the clear-vu fencing and got caught on a sharp bit. If the dassie bit back, I’d imagine a larger wound. And my tongs would not have caused that,” Evans said.

“Fortunately, the F10 Products Manufacturer Page had sponsored Dr Goede with some products to treat the wildlife she helps. So with their products, she cleaned the wound and applied their strong disinfectant cream. A minor wound which will easily heal, especially after this treatment.”

Evans thanked the man who called for the snake and Dr Goede for always being willing to help.

He added that young dassies are a favourite prey item for adult black mambas. In the valleys of Durban, this small mammal is common along cliff faces, but they also are frequently seen living in stormwater drains on roadsides.

The F10 Products Manufacturer Page cream Dr Goede used to disinfect the wound. The snake didn't appreciate the help - they never do. We understand. They see all humans as dangerous, and are absolutely terrified of us. Picture: Nick Evans

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