The Uninvited Visitor: A Black Mamba
Yesterday was quite the adventure, with a fair amount of adrenaline pulsing through all our veins.
The weather was moody, it was hot, hotter than usual for the beginning of May, and I could hear thunder rumbling not far off, the wind had picked up just slightly, and the clouds began to darken. I could feel a storm brewing.
It was about 4pm, and I decided that I should go for our afternoon walk with my cats before the rain began.
When I came out of my house, all 4 cats (my 3, and Gramps’), were sitting inquisitively staring at a trellis, next to the laundry, which is covered by creeper plants.
They were completely fascinated. The way they were all sitting, was so cute, that I even snapped a photo of them, and called Rinette (our receptionist), to come and see this. None of them would go in to the bushes though.
Her and I were both thoroughly amused, and she walked around the one side of the bush, while I walked around the other, to see if we could spot what they were looking at.
The thought that it was a snake crossed my mind, and then I brushed it off, and called the cats to go for our walk.
Our vervet monkey troop (aka the bush mafia), had also arrived, and were sitting in the surrounding trees and atop the laundry, but none of them could see what it was either, or I am sure we would’ve known.
Shumba, Archie and Lady, lost a bit of interest, as the movement in the bush grew silent, and off we went on our walk.
We looped around the property, and I sat on my favourite bench with the cats, watching the hippos frolicking, and the Egyptian Geese in the river below, when I heard Rinette shouting at patches.
I looked up towards my house, and caught sight of an enormous snake, sailing along with its head reared up. Patches (my Gramps’ cat) was following behind it, trying to swat it, and Rinette was behind them, trying to get Patches away from it.
I just knew it was a black mamba.
Patches stopped for a minute, at which point she scooped up Patches and put him in the house, then she swiftly called a reptile handler, all the while keeping an eye on where the snake was.
It had slithered in to one of the machines in our workshop, where Rinette bravely "baby-sat" the snake, while waiting for Juan from Juan's Reptile Rescue to arrive, which he did, shortly after.
At this point, I had put all 3 of my cats in the house, and as I came out to see what was going on, Juan had the snake in his hook, and was telling me to watch out, as he brought it to the grass. (It had been complicated to remove the snake from the machine, and it had taken Juan several minutes to safely get him out).
My heart nearly stopped when I caught sight of it, it was enormous. He said it was about 2.3 meters long, and I am not even sure how to explain the width to you. It was very thick; see photos below.
I went in to Grammy and Gramps’ house, and we watched him handle the snake with extreme caution from the window.
First, he tired the snake out on the lawn (without harming it), and then inserted it in to a bucket (which was rather challenging, as it didn’t really want to get in), The bucket had little holes in for easy breathing, and a piece of newspaper, which apparently makes the snake feel safe, so it can "hide".
My cats sat in my house watching the scene with complete fascination.
After it was safely locked in the bucket, I went to have a closer look. I realized a few things, and also learnt a few things.
Firstly, there is an African superstition, that a mamba always has a friend, and if you take one away, or kill one, the other one will come and find you, Juan informed me that this isn’t the case. ;)
Secondly, I thought that they are territorial, again he says this isn’t actually the case, they move where food is, and sometimes cross paths.
Thirdly, I always thought that a mamba is an extremely aggressive snake, and if it sees you it will come for you. But yesterday, Rinette, and I (along with all 4 cats, stood right by those bushes), and that snake lay low in there until we had all left.
As I type this, I realize how incredibly lucky we are that the snake didn’t come out while we were standing there (All by God’s grace).
But also, when Patches was trying to swat at it, it was slithering away and not trying to fight back.
None of this changes the fact, that I am extremely nervous of a black mamba, it is a highly dangerous, quick snake, and I have a healthy respect for them, but it did change my view on them a bit.
And lastly, when I looked at it in the bucket, and got to see the mamba close up, I realized it is actually a beautiful snake, and they are so important for our eco system. One of God’s many fascinating creations.
We thanked Juan for his amazing work, and hope the snake will enjoy his new home very much.
I am truly so grateful to him for taking the snake, and also to Rinette, who is just one of the bravest woman I know, Patches lives to see another day because of her (not actually sure how many lives he is down to now). ;)
Side Note: I don’t have a cat door in my house for my cats yet (something that I will be investing in asap since this last incident), but in January, I had my sliding door slightly open, and I was lying on my bed, when something caught my eye.
As I looked up, I saw an enormous black mamba slithering up the side of my door, half of his tail already in my house, while he was peeking in.
I quickly stood up and walked towards the doorway in to my lounge. In my mind I was thinking, I can’t let this snake come in, and as I was about to throw something at it, it saw me, and retracted back outside.
I quickly shut my door, and then watched it slither around the side of my house. It was also well over 2 meters, and it was so heavy that I could actually hear it moving along the side of my house.
So that's two black mamba experiences this year so far – I’m done now, thank you!
You know what they say… TIA (This is Africa)… and Africa ain’t for sissies :)