WATCH: Snake catcher removes 2.4m black mamba from KZN family's dog kennel

2019-06-05 13:44
A family in Ottawa, KwaZulu-Natal got more than they bargained for when a large black mamba took up temporary residence in their dog kennel.

A family in Ottawa, KwaZulu-Natal got more than they bargained for when a large black mamba took up temporary residence in their dog kennel. (Jason Arnold)

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A family in Ottawa, KwaZulu-Natal, is glad to be rid of an unwelcome visitor after a black mamba took up temporary residence in their dog's kennel.

The unsuspecting family was outside cooking a meal, when the mamba slithered up from the road and up the driveway of their Piccadilly Road home on Sunday.

Reaction Unit South Africa responded to a call from the family and kept an eye on the large reptile in the kennel until snake catcher Jason Arnold arrived.

Arnold has more than 20 years of experience removing snakes professionally.

"I think the snake felt very exposed and scared when it came up the driveway and saw people scattering, so it was probably looking for somewhere to get to safety," he told News24.

"Mambas, of course, don't like to be approached or exposed, so getting close to one to catch it can sometimes be challenging," he said.

But, in this case, the snake felt so safe in the confines of the small dog house that it posed hardly any problems.

He said the snake was a male, measuring approximately 2.4 or 2.5m – a pretty average length for an adult.

"It was a bit heavier bodied than it should normally have been for its length. Obviously it had a good food supply in the area," Arnold said.

According to Arnold, mambas in Durban seem to "max out" at about 3m but can grow up to roughly 4.3m in exceptional cases.

"My record is 3.1m and I've caught probably in the region of about 600 mambas in my time," he said. 

The mamba is still in his care and will be released back into the wild within the next couple of days.

Common misconceptions 

Arnold said it was common misconception that mambas were aggressive and confrontational.

"They're even thought to chase people, which is utter nonsense."

"They are, in fact, super alert and nervous and will flee very quickly at the slightest hint of any danger being around," Arnold said.

"People also believe that being bitten by a mamba will kill you within minutes. In extreme circumstances this can happen, but it is usually from a severe hypersensitive anaphylactic shock reaction, rather than the action of the venom itself."

In most cases it would take somewhere in the region of two to eight hours for a healthy adult to die from a black mamba bite.

"The SA polyvalent anti-venom is extremely effective against mamba bites and most victims make a full recovery within a day or two."

Nonetheless, he reminded people to treat all snake bites as serious and to rush bitten people to hospital without delay.  

Don't try this at home

Arnold said the best advice for people who didn't want to fall victim to snake bites, is to avoid interfering with the reptiles.

"When snakes think you are a threat to them, they obviously will want to protect and defend themselves. Give them a bit of distance and respect and they won't have any reason to harm anyone."

He also said people shouldn't try to copy what they see him and other professionals do.

Arnold has been bitten twice before - by a Mozambique spitting cobra and black mamba.

"Even having all the right equipment does not prepare you for what could happen," he said.

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