A professional snake catcher had the scare of a lifetime when he realized that an escaped black mamba was secretly slithering through his legs.
Nick Evan, the founder of KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation in South Africa, has wrangled hundreds of the highly-venomous snakes during his career. So when he headed to a home in Westville to collect a black mamba that had been sunbathing in a family garden, he wasn’t worried about handling it.
As Evans explained in a Facebook post, this particular snake had been evading him for weeks. The homeowners had called him out several times, but when he tried to catch it, it would slither into a nearby preserve.
“It wasn’t any threat to the family,” Evans wrote. “However, it occasionally came around the house looking for young dassies [hyraxes]. So the family [was] keen for it to be taken away.”
On this day, Evans expected the snake to leave before he had a chance to even get out of his car.
“It could see me approaching from about 30m away,” he explained. “Mambas have good eyesight.”
Black Mamba Venom Can Kill a Human in as Little as 20 Minutes
Since Evans was there, he decided to head to the preserve and look for the snake, even though it would be impossible to catch in that habitat because he “always [enjoys] seeing mambas.”
On his way, he checked the family’s property to make sure the dangerous serpent wasn’t hiding. After “scanning the bush below,” he determined the snake was gone. But, he was wrong.
“I don’t know what made me look down,” he continued. “I hadn’t heard anything, but I did. Right next to my foot, was the mamba, slowly slithering past my foot in the grass that was above ankle height.”
“Did I keep still? No,” Evans admitted. “I jumped back, in disbelief at what just happened. Our eyes locked, and the mamba knew it was time to flee.”
Black mambas or both incredibly fast and incredibly deadly. Its venom can kill a human in as little as 20 minutes. Luckily, they’re also timid creatures, so Evans escaped unharmed.
“I was checking my legs for punctures,” he wrote. “I’ve heard of people, usually handlers, getting bitten by these snakes and not feeling it. Their fangs are small. But I was fine. Just very shaken up.”
Somehow, Evans was quick enough to capture the mamba, despite the shock. He grabbed it with a pair of thongs and eventually relocated it.
“This mamba had an easy opportunity to bite me multiple times before I’d have even known it was there,” he added. “…I still have absolutely no idea how I didn’t see it. Sneaky thing.”