Mamba recovers after dog attack

Nick Evans and Carl Schloms inspect the snake's wounds.

A BLACK Mamba which was attacked by two dogs in Wheeler Road, Mayville around 9pm on Wednesday night, is recovering thanks to the efforts of Nick Evans and his mate, Carl Schloms who works at uShaka’s Dangerous Creatures exhibit.

According to Evans of KZN Amphibean and Reptile Conservation, the resident heard his dogs barking in the courtyard and when he investigated he saw his two dogs were attacking a snake that had backed up against a wall it was trying to slither over.

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“He saw the one dog, a pitbull cross, biting the snake’s tail repeatedly. The snake then turned and moved quickly towards a built-in concrete braai and slid under it. He was too afraid to take a closer look so left it,” he said.

The following morning, the pitbull was found dead and the owner realised it must have been bitten by the snake.

“He called me at around 4pm on Thursday, asking for information about what snake it could have been. There’s only one snake that fits the description. According to the son, the snake was about the length of the broom and about as thick as a broomstick. He said that it was black in colour. Black Mambas are large snakes and one that size wouldn’t be considered very big at all. They are a dark grey colour, with a matt appearance. The name Black Mamba comes from the colour of the inside of their mouth, which they expose when they feel threatened. But when its dark, it would appear to be black. Plus, if a dog dies after attacking a snake, one can presume the snake was a mamba, as their venom acts the quickest,” said Evans.

The man told Evans he would call him again if he saw the snake. Ten minutes later he called back saying that their second dog had not stopped barking at the corner of the house where the snake had been seen moving to.

“He asked me to go and investigate the scene. I thought I was purely going to put their minds at ease as it had been almost twenty hours since the incident. I was sure it would have moved off after the traumatic experience. To my disbelief, I found the snake! It was in the corner, trying to hide behind a concrete drain and the gutter pipe, which was sheltered by the braai stand,” he said.

With the second dog locked safely away, Evans said his only concern was for the snake as they often die after a dog bite which usually breaks the spine of the snake.

“I carefully extracted it from its hiding place and was relieved to find that the tail was moving just fine. A snake with a broken spine is paralysed from the break down, so it seemed this mamba’s spine was in tact. However, as I noticed when I inspected it more closely, it had a few nasty punctures and was bleeding quite a bit,” said Evans.

Evans took the snake to Carl Schloms who works at uShaka’s Dangerous Creatures exhibit.

“Thanks to his job, he has a good knowledge and lots of experience in treating injured reptiles. I held the mamba down, while he checked the wounds. Fortunately, none of them looked life-threatening, however, we were worried about infection. Carl cleaned the wounds out with warm water and antiseptic fluid, and applied a disinfectant powder to each and every wound,” he said.

The snake was put it in a clean, dry bucket and kept in a dark space for a few days and is currently looking well.

“I’ll be checking on its wounds every few days and I’ll continue to disinfect them until they heal. Once the wounds have healed, and the snake seems fit and healthy, it will be released in a natural area far from people,” he said.

Evans said it was important to note that Black Mambas do not attack dogs. “When a dog sees a big snake like a mamba in the yard, instincts kick in, and it attacks the ‘intruder’. The snake will try to escape, but if it can’t and is left with no choice, it will bite in self-defence, in a desperate attempt to save its life. Biting is a last resort. It’s not the dog or the snake’s fault, it’s just a terribly sad accident, that does happen now and then,” he said.

For snake removals, the public can contact Nick on 072 809 5806. For snake educational work and queries, email [email protected]

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Lauren Walford
Journalist

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