What to know about black mamba hatchlings — snake rescuer

The hatchling. Notice the bulge on the tail-end, near the head. Picture: Nick Evans.

The hatchling. Notice the bulge on the tail-end, near the head. Picture: Nick Evans.

Published Feb 21, 2024


Durban snake rescuer Nick Evans started the week with a busy morning at a business premises in Westville on Monday.

Evans said that just before 8am, he was sent a video of a small, dark snake on top of a shrub.

He could easily identify the snake: “I could tell it was a hatchling black mamba,” Evans said.

“Yes, now is the time of year black mambas, and most species of snakes, are hatching. It does not mean Durban is about to be swarmed with young, blood-thirsty snakes.

“Another important fact to remember is the mother snake is not nearby, watching her babies,” Evans said.

He said that was often the first fear that comes to mind when encountering a juvenile snake - “Where is the mother?!”

Evans explained that mother snakes lay their eggs and leave them, except for the southern African python, the father snakes move off after mating.

He further explains that when baby snakes hatch, they disperse, they do not stick together for safety in numbers. As they disperse, they get picked off by predators, such as birds, monitor lizards, genets and mongoose.

“So no, the hatching season doesn’t mean that it needs to be the panic season,” Evans said.

“Oh, also, please don’t ask a snake remover to come and find the nest, as there’s no nest to find, and the eggs are often laid underground.”

Evans explained that black mambas hatch out at 50-60cm in length, about the length of the snake he was called out to rescue.

“Big babies. And yes, they are venomous from day one,” he said.

“Unfortunately for this individual, it had been hit by something, and its spine had been severed. It was euthanised.”

As a snake remover, I've had to learn how to balance. Not one of my favourite tasks, Nick Evans said. Picture: Nick Evans.

Evans said that a few hours later, he was surprised to get a call from the same premises.

“Another black mamba had been found, but this one was no baby, and thankfully, was alive and well!” Evans exclaimed.

He said the snake was in some trees next to the parking lot, making everyone feel a bit uneasy.

“I climbed onto a… almost stable tree. It was a bit on the flimsy side, although it was just strong enough to support me, and allow me to balance on it. Just,” Evans said.

“The mamba glided across the top of me, and I managed to grab it with both my 1.1m and 1.8m African Snakebite Institute tongs.

“I had to maintain a perfect balance (I’m no surfer/skateboarder), and ‘neck’ the mamba up there,” Evans continued.

“It was not at all enjoyable, and terribly nerve-wracking.”

Evans said he managed and had the 2 metre mamba secure.

“I was delighted to be on the ground again after that,” Evans said.

He also thanked those at the scene who called and watched the snakes for him.

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