A South African snake catcher has described coming within inches of of being bitten by one of world’s deadliest serpents that had taken refuge inside a clothing cupboard in a house near Durban.
Nick Evans received a telephone call from an elderly woman who said a four metre black mamba was in her bedroom.
Mr Evans fetched his 91-year-old Scottish grandfather who lives nearby and took him along to witness the capture.
“He’s about the only family member of mine that can actually watch me work with black mambas,” he said.
At the house Mr Evans carefully entered the bedroom where the black mamba was hiding.
He opened a cupboard and saw a portion of the snake’s body on top of a box.
“I stuck my head closer, when I suddenly got a bad feeling. Then in the corner of my eye, I noticed its head sticking out of the clothes, within striking range of my head,” he said. “I froze at first. I pulled back very slowly, and counted my lucky stars when I was out of the danger zone.”
He sat in the bedroom “for a good fifteen minutes” watching the mamba move in the cupboard.
“Eventually, I could see it was starting to feel agitated, knowing it was trapped. It was time to catch it. It was trying to get into the cardboard box to hide.”
Mr Evans used a pair of tongs to grip the powerful snake “firmly but gently, a foot behind the head”.
The snake leaped into action and tried to pull away. When Mr Evans had it safely in his tongs, he grabbed hold of it behind the head with his hands and took it to his grandfather and the caller to see.
“This was a very, very proud moment for me, by catching this mamba in the company of my grandpa,” he said. “He was thrilled about it.”
Black mambas are extremely aggressive when confronted and are known to leap several metres when they strike.
Victims usually die within an hour after being bitten.
April and May is their breeding season and encounters with humans are more frequent than usual.