Huge mamba caught in shower

2011-03-07 00:00

A THREE-METRE-LONG black mamba as thick as a person’s wrist was recovered by a snake catcher at a Table Mountain farm at the weekend.

Snake catcher Garth Carpenter was called out to the farm on Saturday after the snake was discovered in a shower by a domestic worker.

“She had pushed open the shower to clean it. And there was the mamba,” said Carpenter.

He had no idea how long the snake had been there, for but it took him 30 seconds to catch it.

“I have been catching snakes for 60 years now. In that time, I’ve caught between 400 to 500 black mambas.

“I’d say that I have reached a stage where I’m able to handle snakes even in difficult situations,” Carpenter told The Witness.

He named Ashburton, Bishopstowe, Mpushini and Table Mountain as the most snake-infested areas around Pietermaritzburg.

His snake-catching expeditions over the years have included the successful capture of black mambas, imfezi (spitting cobras), puff adders and boomslangs, all of which are venomous snakes. An indication of just how busy he gets, he said ,is that he was called out about 200 times to catch snakes last year.

Carpenter is an honorary officer of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. This means he has authority to remove snakes from houses, but he does not get paid for it. He also responds to calls on behalf of the SPCA for all snake removals.

“My services are basically voluntary, but I do charge R50 to cover petrol for long distance. I do it because if cornered these snakes will attack and put people’s lives at risk,” said Carpenter.

He said black mambas are usually very big, grey snakes. The “black” in their name refers to the colour of the inside of their mouths.

You can identify a spitting cobra by its raised head as it makes a hood, while a puff adder has bright black and yellow patterns on its body.

Carpenter said many people correctly identify male boomslangs, which are green, but some don’t know that the females are brown. While these snakes are extremely poisonous, he said boomslangs are not aggressive.

“If approached, it will go up the closest tree. These snakes don’t attack unless provoked.”

His advice to people confronted by these snakes is: “Move away. Back away until you are a safe distance and are able to turn and go. But under no conditions must you interfere with the snake.”

Carpenter runs a wildlife care and rehabilitation centre for injured animals.

He is in need of a bakkie to follow through with this responsibility as well as his snake catching, as his 25-year-old vehicle has reached its expiry date.

To assist you can call Carpenter at 082 575 6569.

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