Slippery fowl thief

2012-02-10 00:00

WHEN Dohri Zondi was woken up by sounds in his yard at 2 am yesterday in the sleepy Table Mountain area, he knew immediately that there was a cold-blooded invader in his chicken coop.

Zondi said: “The snake came in through a hole in the coop and feasted on the chickens.

“The chickens made a noise and when I came to investigate, I saw the snake swallowing a chicken and some had already disappeared.”

Zondi said the snake was confirmed to be an African Rock Python weighing between 40 and 50 kg.

He said it had raided the coop before, killing three chickens.

The python ate three chickens, but regurgitated the last one.

Zondi said black mambas were a bigger threat in the area.

“Even though the python ate my chickens, they are not as much of a threat as mambas.

“Mambas are aggressive and when I herd my cows they often chase me. I’ve been chased three or four times by them and I have seen two in the vicinity of my yard.

“They are dangerous and it is only by the grace of God that we are not bitten by the mambas … we are scared of them.”

Zondi said he called the police, who arrived at 3 am.

Wayne Gerbhard, of the Crafty Duck Animal Farm, came to collect the 3,5-metre snake at 6 am.

He was bitten in the process.

Gerbhard said the snake was healthy and it was eating well.

“The snake was in good condition.

“It is not a threat to humans, but it is a threat to small livestock, which it feeds on.”

Maureen Zimu of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said the snake could not be kept in captivity.

“Nobody is allowed to catch the snake without a permit. Those who remove or attempt to kill the snake without a permit are liable for prosecution because it is a protected species.”

Expert snake handler Mark Enslin said pythons regurgitate food because it helps them reduce their load when cornered.

“As soon as pythons are cornered or ready to be caught, they go into stress and release whatever they are eating, which gives them the opportunity to escape easily because they don’t move freely when they are digesting.”

Enslin said there were two myths that needed to be dispelled about pythons

“Pythons do not break bones. They constrict and cause death by cardiac arrest. And they do not anchor their tails to trees when they constrict their prey.”

Nonethless, people should be careful around pythons because they are the biggest snakes in southern Africa.

He said they usually average around three to four metres, with the largest being around six metres.

The python was released back into the wild.

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