Durban snake catcher, Nick Evans, found himself called out to a school in Clermont, near Durban, on Thursday to catch a Black Mamba, which had crawled into the roof space of a classroom.
“I was releasing snakes with my mamba research partner, Dr. Cormac Price, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said. “We’d been hoping for a mamba call during his day-long visit, and so we raced over.
“After walking past excitable, yet nervous teachers and pupils, along the passageway, we were led into the class, where some people were watching the mamba for us.
“The mamba was curled up on a beam, visible through a hole in the roof. It looked like a youngster, maybe three years old or so, and less than 2m.
“I was stressing that it would move further into the roof and out of sight, into the roof of the next classroom. If there was no hole in the next classroom roof, we’d struggle to get it.
“Luckily, I reached up, and grabbed it’s tail with my tongs, before it got away. As expected, the head came out, wondering what or who the heck was grabbing it.
“Cormac passed me a second tong, and I got the neck. I was standing on a chair, which wasn’t giving me the height to be able to reach it, but I managed to pull it down low enough for me to grab it with my hand … the tail took some time to come out, but it eventually did, and I had all of it in my hands.”
Evans said one of the teachers asked him if he and the pupils had been in any danger.
“With the mamba being in the roof, the answer was no,” he explained. “It won’t bother anyone up there, except the local rats.
“Remember, as hard as it may be to believe, mambas are scared of people, and don’t want confrontation. Although with their habitat shrinking, or already being surrounded by human development, they’re bound to end up in our properties.”
Evans added: “If it had slithered in the classroom, it would obviously have been more risky, especially if no one had seen it enter, and someone stepped on it, for example.
“If someone tried killing it, it would have been even more dangerous. Otherwise, it would just try to hide away, and hope that the humans moved away.
“Snake removers in Durban remove countless Black Mambas every year from properties, yet bites on humans are extremely, extremely rare. When bites occur, from any snake, it is often because someone is trying to kill or catch the snake.
“The teachers did the right thing in calling for help, as well as keeping students away, and for that, I am grateful.”