A black mamba slithered through a terrified family's living room in South Africa before entering one of their bedrooms.
Snake catcher Nick Evans was called to the scene in Maphephetheni, North Durban, by the family who evacuated the house out of fear of the extremely venomous snake. They were sitting on the couch by the front door of their house when the snake entered.
Black mambas are formidable creatures to capture. They can grow to lengths of up to 14 feet, and can slither at up to 12.5 miles per hour. They also have fangs that are around a quarter inch long.
The species is extremely shy and will generally avoid contact with people. However, if they feel threatened and find themselves unable to escape, they can bite. If untreated, their venom has a fatality rate of 100 percent.
The venom's powerful neurotoxins rapidly destroy the body's tissues, triggering symptoms to set in within 10 minutes of the bite. When threatened, the mamba may perform a threat display, opening its black mouth and flicking its tongue at the threat. The snake may be spooked by sudden movements from the threat, and cause it to rapidly strike several times. Two drops of its venom are enough to kill a fully grown human.
In the Maphephetheni home, the family had poured disinfectant around the house in the hopes that the smell would deter the snake and cause it to leave the property. By the time Evans arrived, the family had gathered outside the house to watch if the snake would exit via the doors or windows.
"The mamba wasn't under the bed," said Evans in a social media post describing the event. "I looked around the room, and the wardrobe was the next best bet, I thought. I shone my torch in, and I could see a coil of its body sticking out. The gap between the wardrobe and wall was small, but it squeezed in there."
Evans said he attempted to move the wardrobe but to do so, he would have had to stick his hand right where the black mamba was hiding, and he could not see its head.
"I managed to pull the shelf, and shift the wardrobe towards me by a few centimeters, while [my wife] Joelle watched for the head."
The mamba didn't appreciate the disturbance, and Evans managed to grab it as it attempted to exit the gap behind the wardrobe.
"As I pulled it out though, I noticed the scales were damaged. The snake is about to shed. Something happened which pulled off the skin, which was due to come off, but the new scales underneath weren't quite ready."
Black mambas, like all other snakes, shed their skin periodically as they grow. The snake's entire skin loosens around it as it forms a new layer of scales below, and eventually it wiggles out of its old skin, discarding it. This usually happens a few times a year. It occurs more frequently in younger snakes, as they grow at a faster rate.
The snake cannot see very well during the shedding period, as their newly formed skin will cover its eyes. Snakes may often find a place to hide out until they finish shedding, which perhaps may be what Evan's black mamba was attempting to do.
"Either way, it will be fine, especially after another shed," said Evans.
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