Durban – For Durban snake catcher Nick Evans it was a dream come true when he was called in, to rescue and relocate a 4m rock python, from Zimbali Coastal Resort and Estate in Ballito last week.
Evans, from KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, said it was the most “incredible, exciting yet emotional rescue call ever”.
He explained that the python was found coiled around her eggs in a gap between the top of a garage wall and an adjoining embankment that was covered by roofing.
“It created a neat tunnel-like hideout, although it was only about 2m deep,” he said.
Evans said: “My first reaction when I looked in was: ‘Wow! That’s a big python!’.
“I was amazed at the sight in front of me.
“There was this giant snake coiled firmly around her eggs. This was the stuff of dreams for me.”
According to Evans, the safety of the python and her eggs was the main concern in deciding whether or not to relocate her.
“Usually, it wouldn’t be a problem removing any snake from her eggs. Mother snakes do not look after their eggs and young, but the python is an exception,” he said.
Not only do mother pythons protect the eggs from predators but they also incubate them.
“She stays with them for the three months or so that it takes for them to hatch.
“The babies will stay with her for a short period of time upon hatching and then they all go their separate ways,” he said.
Several factors contributed to the decision to move the python. These included ongoing construction work, wildlife that could pose a danger to the eggs and because the homeowner and estate management were not comfortable with having the python remain on the property.
With the help of Richard McKibbin and ZEMA Security, Evans uncoiled the python from around her eggs.
“Our first plan was to see if we could push her back and off her eggs. We did this slowly and carefully, dodging a couple of strikes from her.
“She lunged at us, mouth wide open. They may not be venomous, but pythons have rows of needle-like teeth that can inflict one heck of a painful, destructive bite,” he said.
While the mother python was released in a forest on the estate, the eggs were not returned to her but transported to an incubator.
Evans explained that if the eggs were left with the mother, there was a possibility that she could abandon them if they were disturbed.
WATCH THE RESCUE BELOW: