A mother python has been rescued from the cooking pot by Durban snake catcher, Nick Evans.
In a post on his Facebook page, he said a cattle herder had captured the snake in the Osindiswini area, near Verulam, with the intention of eating it.
It is illegal to kill and eat this protected species, and luckily for the python an environmentally-friendly resident managed to convince the herder to let Evans collect it on Saturday.
On arrival he was taken to where the herder had hidden the snake, in a bucket, in the bush.
“The snake had emptied its bowels at some point, and it was now sitting in that, freezing,” said Evans. “I pulled the filthy snake out. It was extremely underweight and not the longest either, around 3 to 3.5 metres. However, this is quite normal at this stage.
“They lose a lot of weight after laying eggs and during the three month incubation process, they do not eat.
“Once the babies hatch and disperse, however, the mother will go off and lie in an ambush position, hoping for a small animal to pass by. If it doesn’t get that soon, it can die.”
It was then that Evans discovered that the herder had spotted eggs in the python’s den when he caught her.
“Pythons are fantastic mothers,” he said. “Not only do they protect their eggs, but they incubate them too. They’ll bask, get nice and warm, and go back down the hole to wrap around the eggs and keep them warm.
“It had been fairly cool in the time without her on her eggs, so I was worried the eggs were in danger.”
When he checked the python’s den, however, he spotted some baby pythons, which immediately dashed down a tunnel and out of sight.
“To get the babies would require extensive digging in hard ground, with a team, and even then it could take hours,” he said.
“The eggs were away from the homes, in the bush, and near a cliff leading down to a river. It was a beautiful valley, pristine python habitat. We decided to leave them, after the residents said they didn’t mind.”
The female python is now at Dangerous Creatures at Ushaka Marine World in Durban, where it will receive treatment and food. If she recovers, she’ll be released in a safer area.