- Veteran snake handler Nick Evans broke through a garage roof to rescue a black mamba in Durban earlier this month.
- Evans couldn't access the snake from inside the garage for fear of getting too close to the reptile, and not having enough space to grab it.
- The mamba which was only 2m in length was in the process of shedding its skin.
A small, but sly black mamba gave veteran snake catcher Nick Evans the runaround when it hid in the rafters of a home in Westville, Durban earlier this month.
Evans was forced to break through the tiles of a garage roof so he could gain access to the mamba.
The woman who'd called Evans had seen the snake basking on the roof of the garage, before it went slithering inside looking for a safe place, Evans explained.
"I went into the garage and at first I couldn't see it... and then I saw its little head pop out," he said.
Evans said he put the ladder against the wall and climbed up, but found himself dangerously close to the snake.
"It was too close for comfort. My head was a meter and a half from the snake's head... there was no space for me to reach out and grab it," he told News24.
He said he knew there was no way of getting it from the inside and so he told the homeowner that he was going to have to break through the roof tiles to nab it from the top.
"I explained that I'd have to break through the waterproofing, but she just wanted the snake gone," he said.
Although Evans told the woman he'd only break through a portion of the roof, the snake kept moving down the beam forcing Evans to remove more tiles.
"But in the end it wasn't that much," he said.
A neighbour who had come to see the action lent Evans a hammer and chisel to get through the tiling.
"Eventually I got a gap to grab it," he said.
Evans noticed the snake was "in the blue" which means it's in the process of shedding its skin.
"When they're due to shed they get a waxy layer that forms between the new skin and the old skin - it helps the skin come off easier. When they have that layer it affects their vision because their eyes get cloudy and they can't see very well," said Evans.
He added that this may have caused the snake to be a bit more scared than usual.
Evans said many mambas he's rescued from roofs are more often than not in the process of shedding their skin.
"But mambas also generally love being in the roof because it's safe and warm and there are a lot of rats," he said.
Fortunately the home owner wasn't too stressed about the roof because the home was in a complex, and she said the body corporate would fix it, Evans explained.