Screengrabs from a video of snake expert Jason Arnold with the black mamba found under the bonnet of a car in Durban on Saturday.
Durban  - The month-end weekend rush in the CBD was brought to a standstill on Saturday with the appearance of a 2.2-metre black mamba.

Snake expert Jason Arnold of Universal Reptiles was called in after the snake was spotted slithering under a car at the corner of Dr Yusuf Dadoo (Broad) Street and Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street.

The driver was sitting in the car waiting for his wife to get off work at about 1.30pm.

“He heard people screaming and shouting and saw a big snake underneath the overhang of the building,” said Arnold. Spooked by bystanders who started throwing things at it trying to kill it, the snake slithered under the car.

“The driver saw it go under his car but was scared to get out of the car in case it came out the other side. People surrounding his car told him it hadn’t come out, so he closed his windows so the snake wouldn’t get in. Then he got out of the car.”

Arnold said he received numerous calls to assist and on arrival found a large crowd.

“There were hundreds of spectators," he said. "We had to bring the police in to cordon off the area, closing off one lane, because I was scared that when I started searching for the snake and it no longer felt safe in the car it would dart out into the crowd.”

However, a thorough search of the car yielded no results.

“I even stuck my head under the car but there was no sign of it.”

Arnold realised that the only way to find the snake was to go to a quieter place where it might feel safe and come out. The car was then towed to the owner’s home in Newlands West.

“We weren’t there for five minutes when I opened the bonnet there it was, Arnold said. "It must have been disturbed by the wind, as it had made its way into the engine compartment."

Pictures: Universal Reptiles/Facebook

Under the bonnet, the snake was coiled around the cables.

“The snake was obviously scared and didn’t want to come out it wanted to stay where it felt safe,” he said. It took some coaxing for him to untangle it and remove it, much to the vehicle owner’s relief.

Arnold believes the snake hitched a ride in another vehicle unbeknown to the driver and got out in town when that car stopped.

“I can only assume that at some point the snake sought shelter or a warm place in someone else’s car. Snakes can do that and stay in the car when it’s moving for hours and only get out when it stops.”

With the snake coiled around his arm, Arnold said it looked to be about three years old or younger but was already more than two metres long.

After bagging it, he took it home for the night before releasing it yesterday in a bushy natural area far from human habitation.

The Mercury