A massive pregnant python weighing 33 kgs and measuring over 4 metres has been removed, after a lengthy rescue by two snake experts, from underneath a building at the luxury Zimbali Coastal Resort in KwaZulu Natal.
Nick Evans, who works at KZN Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, was on Tuesday called in to Zimbali, where the python had been basking on a patio for several days and then retreating underneath it.
“To me, this would be a dream come true for my garden,” said snake expert Evans on a Facebook post. “I’d sit and watch it everyday! But, this isn’t something many people would like. There were guests renting out the house for the holidays. They were rather anxious, and I believe the homeowner wasn’t too chuffed either. So, it had to go.
“Sad, I know. This snake wouldn’t bother anyone. But that’s how it is.”
Evans said they suspected the python may be guarding her eggs.
“Females come up to bask while protecting their eggs, get nice and hot, then go back down the burrow, wrap around the eggs, and incubate them. She was displaying this sort of behaviour. Should she be on eggs, that would make it a whole lot more difficult!”
After arriving with fellow snake rescuer Nick Saunders they discovered a tunnel under the patio. They dug in various places to find trace of the snake. In the process he was stung by a number of bees.
“I was getting stung on my head, between my eyes, on my ear, neck, arms, legs- everywhere!”
A bee remover, Johan Bodenstein, was called and came up from Durban. There were several thousand in a drain near the tunnel, and they were removed.
“By now it was dark, and we wanted to get this done and go home. But the python had other ideas. She squished herself in her tunnel so tightly, she wasn’t coming easily. We were quite relieved to find she wasn’t on eggs, because getting them out safely with her guarding them would have been near impossible.”
By the time she was cornered, “She was looking at us head on. If we reached out towards us, she’d strike out. Goodness me, a bite from a snake of this size would hurt! No venom, thankfully, but rows of sharp, hook-like, teeth, armed with power behind the strike. It would cause horrendous damage on one’s hand.”
By the time they had caught the python, it was 9.30 p.m., “ending a six-hour operation. SIX HOURS!!”
“Everyone was overjoyed, yet just left in awe at the enormous size of her! She was a giant! Massive!
“This morning I took her to Dangerous Creatures at Ushaka, to collect data. She measured out at 4.060m (4m 6cm), and weighed a whopping 33.1kg. The veterinary team did an ultrasound on her, and yes, she is pregnant! Absolutely full of eggs! She looks like she’s about to pop. I consulted with Professor Graham Alexander, the authority on this species, and we agreed it would be best to house her until she lays. Otherwise she could struggle to find another den site.
“She, and her babies, will be released. ‘Where?,’ is what you’ll all be wondering. That’s a secret.”
To donate to Evans’ running around, rescuing snakes and people, please click here.