Durban - Gone are the days where Durban and Coast SPCA inspector Codie Sermin, 23, has to squeeze himself through dark tunnels, drains, between ceilings, roofs and walls to locate an animal in need of rescue.With the help of a small and powerful "Snake cam", a camera mounted at the end of a flexible cable, he is able to see inaccessible places and locate the animals before carrying out the rescue.Within days of purchasing the snake cam, the branch rescued a puppy that was stuck in Avoca Hills.“The snake cam is like a larger version of an endoscope. Just like how doctors use it to navigate inside our organs before operating, we too can see what is in the drains before we go in for the rescue,” said Sermin.He joined the Durban team in November 2014 and was surprised when he found his team using the good quality, robust and waterproof snake cam. The camera, which cost R16 000, was bought with funds generously donated by the public.‘Handy’“I was surprised at how handy the snake cam was. When I worked in Johannesburg, I used to just go in the tunnels and in most cases you can hear the animal but you cannot see it. You have to follow its voice. “When I joined this team I found that I was the smallest in my team and some of my colleagues cannot go into the drains because the tunnels are too small.“When we get a call that an animal is stuck in the drain, that’s when the snake cam comes in handy."We use it to view the location of the animal, can determine whether it has been injured or not and how can we rescue it from where it is,” said Sermin. The 40m flexible cable has a camera and a flashlight to help the inspectors see in the dark tunnels.“At the moment we only have one cable, but I know that we are planning to get another one because it really makes our jobs easier and much more fun.”“The first time I used the snake cam was when there was a kitten stuck in the drain for eight days in Newlands West.“We couldn’t find the puppy. We had to call in engineers to assist us with the plans of the pipes. The fire department said they could not flush the puppy because there was a possibility that it could get hurt.”‘No more worrying’Sermin said the snake cam was the best thing to have happened to the team. “There is no more worrying about going home leaving trapped animals behind,” he said.“In December 2013, we did one of our biggest rescues using a snake cam in Merebank where a puppy was stuck. It took us 14 days to rescue the Jack Russell.“We had to go back every day to leave fresh water and food for it. Every time it heard a noise it would go deeper into the tunnel, so one day we blocked off the one exit and flushed it out and it washed into my arms.“My colleagues were so proud of the operation that one of my colleagues adopted the puppy,” said Sermin.General Manager of the Durban & Coast SPCA Caroline Smith said often the puppies are at risk of drowning, being injured and starving to death. “We need to locate them in time and this is where the snake cam makes all the difference,” said Smith.“Their contributions mean the difference between life and death for an animal,” said a grateful Smith.