Durban — The black mambas were hungry on Wednesday.
Those were the words of Durban snake rescuer Nick Evans, who responded to two black mamba calls.
His first call was in Dawncliffe, where a black mamba was seen slithering underneath an elevated house.
“I climbed under the house, with low expectations. Usually, when a mamba goes under a building, it goes out the other side without anyone seeing it, and we almost never find it,” Evans said.
He said this time he was in luck and spotted the mamba in a small space, where the floor of the building was built into the ground.
“The mamba kept still as I approached, desperately hoping I’d leave it alone. Rather than crawling into this tight space, and trying to catch a mamba while lying on my stomach, I used my 1.8m long tongs from the African Snakebite Institute to reach in and grab it. I pulled it out, dragged it towards me, grabbed it with my 1m tongs, and secured the head fairly easily,” Evans said.
“A large female mamba, around 2.7m, had just eaten a young dassie.”
Evans said black mambas love young dassies and cannot resist the smell of them. Hence why homes with dassie colonies are prone to mamba sightings.
He said that the second mamba call was in Westville North. The mamba had been seen slithering behind some stacked wood, outside a resident’s home workshop.
“While I was making my way there, the resident noticed the mamba was chasing a rat, which came running out as I arrived. I am not sure if the mamba bit the rat, I never found it again,” Evans said.
He explained that black mambas are excellent for rat control, and do a very good job of it around Durban. In saying that, Durban has a massive house rat (an invasive species) population, which is a problem in many ways. House snakes, mambas and owls are a few natural rat controllers.
“The mamba was actually very ‘relaxed’. It was slow-moving, made no attempt to threaten me – a very easy catch. Often, this could mean the snake is unwell. In this case, it seems just fine and appears to be today (Thursday) as well. Not a large specimen, around 2.2, maybe 2.3m,” Evans said.
“Black mambas will feed on other small mammals, as well as birds. I have no records of them feeding on other reptiles.”
Evans also thanked those who called.
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