PICS: ’Beast’ of a Black Mamba coils around Durban snake catcher’s neck during scary rescue
Durban - Most people, it is assumed, would avoid an encounter with a snake and, in all probability, flee if it was highly venomous.
But not Nick Evans, Durban’s famed snake rescuer, who has had his hands full this month, darting across the city to catch snakes that have slithered in people’s homes or in informal settlements.
In the space of 18 days this month, Evans has been called to 11 homes across the city, where he has caught six Black Mambas – one that weighed 3kg and constricted around his neck – four Mozambique Spitting Cobras, a Brown House snake and a Vine Snake.
Black Mambas and Mozambique Spitting Cobras are among the world’s most deadliest snakes.
This week, Evans, who is also shooting the television series Snake Season, rescued two Black Mambas at house in Welbedacht East in what he described as one of the most exciting calls he has done in two seasons of shooting the show.
“I had been to this house last April for the same scenario. We didn't find the mamba, but found a skin and signs telling us it had been living in the roof for sometime,” he wrote on a Facebook page.
This week, he and his cameraman climbed onto the hot roof and “immediately started sweating”.
After lifting a tile on the roof he said he saw the snake stretched out facing him.
The snake fled into the roof with Evans in pursuit, lifting tile after tile to get to it.
“We were on the roof for hours, lifting up tiles, playing a game of cat and mouse with this mamba. We had residents below, inside the house, listening for where the mamba was moving. We also had many community members standing on the bank next to the house, watching all openings in the roof.
’’This was one big team effort!... Of course, the more roof tiles we removed, the more unstable sections of the roof became, for us to stand on. It was a tense time. And we were melting,” he said.
After a while, Evans said, he caught the snake. When he showed it to the homeowner, they immediately said it was not the snake.
After taking a break and getting more equipment, Evans went back on the roof and went looking under the tiles again.
“To my absolute amazement, I saw the tail of another mamba. The community were right,” he said.
After another cat-and mouse chase with the second snake, Evans pinned it down, much to the relief of the residents in the area and the homeowner.
“My adrenaline had been pumping and, yes, I was definitely scared on many occasions here,” he said. “The community were overjoyed, and we had several requests for new wives, which were politely declined”.
By January 18, Evans caught four venomous Mozambique Spitting Cobras, one of which has crept into a Westville resident’s home and eye-balled him as he played video games, as well as a Brown House Snake and a Vine Snake.
Another scary encounter occurred just days into the new year for the famed snake catcher. He was called to an informal settlement near Chatsworth where he had an encounter with a “massive constricting mamba”.
“I was told there was a huge, black snake in a tree, and it needed to be taken away immediately. I could hear a lot of people in the background,” he said.
“When people phone for a snake in a tree, it's often not appealing to a snake catcher. The reason is that, often, it's not one, isolated tree. It's usually a tree connected to a massive patch of bush, in which case the snake will disappear/elude the snake catcher”
“But, in this case, I was told it's one tree, and many people were watching it. So we made our way over. I was trying not to get too excited, as I knew we might not even see the snake, which I was sure was a mamba, judging by description,” Evans said.
After walking through a warren of informal dwellings, the community pointed to the tree.
“Due to the way the tree was growing, I didn't really climb up, it was more across, over the river. I was carefully walking along the branches, determined to find the snake.
Well, I looked to my left, and there it was, right in front of me! A massive mamba!
“‘Bloody hell’, I said in shock… I reached forward with my tongs, and as I did so, the snake started moving. Its coils, as thick as an average adult arm, started unwinding, slowly. I grabbed what I could, but very quickly realised that I had grabbed the tail end!
“Now I got nervous! I once had a mamba by the tail in a tree, and it swung back at me. Was this going to happen again? The head did come back in my direction, but not in a charging manner, I think it wanted to climb higher.
’’Regardless, I let it go, for a moment, and as the head-end neared, I grabbed the neck with my tongs. The strong snake started trying to pull out of my grip. I balanced the tongs on a branch, let it reverse its head back into the tongs, and grabbed the head. Then, something unusual happened.
“This was an enormous mamba. It started wrapping its large coils around my head! It covered my eyes at one point, and I sucked my lips in to avoid getting it in my mouth!
’’I could smell the curry-like smell of its musk and pooh, and I could feel the wetness of this, on my head, as the snake kept wrapping around,” Evans recalled.
“I started climbing back towards land, with the mamba now wrapping around my neck. I had the head in one hand, and I was using the other hand to climb”.
At that point, Evans got caught in creeper and asked a community member to cut him free while the mamba squeezed tighter around his neck.
“I was beginning to wonder whether I had a python here or a mamba! It was incredibly powerful, and I was genuinely struggling. If you look at the pics, you'll see that I am. When I was cut free, and stepped onto land, I was very relieved to get the snake off my neck”.
Evans said the mamba measured 2.57m but weighed almost 3kg.
“It was such a beast,” he said.
Evans said the snake had a tough life at the settlement as it was isolated at the tree and had only a small bank below.
“It would have had an abundance of food in the form of rats, but it would have had a hard time at remaining undetected. You could see this was true, as it had a lot of bumps and bruises. It had an injury which clearly indicates it was stabbed with something.
’’Now, it's in a nature reserve, where it doesn't have to worry about people”.