Durban snake catcher Nick Evans is no stranger to tight corners and sticky situations with large snakes, but even he was surprised when he was called out to a rural area near Verulam over the Easter weekend.
In a post on Facebook, Evans detailed his capture over the weekend.
“On Saturday afternoon, I received a call from a resident in the Osindiswini area (near Verulam). He told me that a cattle herder had captured a large python, the day before, with the initial intention of eating it. However, the environmentally-friendly resident had managed to convinced him otherwise, and I was called to collect,” he recounted.
In case you are unaware, it is illegal to kill pythons as they are an endangered species in South Africa.
Without the mother’s warmth the snake eggs are in danger
What the herder told him next caught him off guard, he had come across eggs in the same hole he found the large python in, which concerned Evans. He was worried that without the mother’s warmth the eggs might be in danger, considering the cooler temperatures in the region.
“I was stressing big time, while being excited at the same time. Pythons are fantastic mothers. 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 temperatures, in the time without her on her eggs. So I was worried the eggs were in danger,” Evans wrote.
Accompanied by Reaction Unit South Africa, Evans arrived at the rural location and the herder handed over the mother python who was extremely underweight and covered in its own faeces in the bucket she was being kept in.
Evans pinned her to be about 3.5m in length.
When led to the hole, he peeked in and saw the eggs, and some looked as though they had already hatched.
“Before sticking my hand down without checking what was there, I stuck my phone down, while on record, with the light on. To the right, I could see baby pythons! The eggs had hatched! They quickly dashed down a tunnel and out of sight. I was so excited! What a beautiful sight! I started pulling eggs out, and quickly realized they had all hatched.”
It would take too much effort and time to get to the baby pythons to rescue them. Instead, Evans spoke to the herder and they made a decision to leave the snakes where they were.
It helped that they eggs were a distance from the homes near a cliff leading to a river.
“It was a beautiful valley, pristine python habitat. We decided to leave them, after the residents said they didn’t mind. Phew. A relief.”
Not all these babies will survive, says Evans, in fact probably very few will. They have loads of natural predators, such as birds, other snakes, mongoose and monitor lizards.
He transported the mother python to Dangerous Creatures at Ushaka Marine World, where she will receive treatment. When healed, she will be released out of harms way.
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