DURBAN – Black mambas are top class controllers of Durban’s ‘enormous’ house rat population, says Nick Evans
Local snake rescuer Nick Evans says black mambas play an important role in controlling Durban’s house rat population.
In one example, Evans said he was called out to a chicken farm in the Shongweni area on Thursday.
It was the fourth black mamba call he got from the same farm in less than a year, he said.
He said the farm was located in the bush and the chickens feed draws the rats which makes it “heaven” for mambas.
“This black mamba was where this farm’s mambas always are, in the roof.
“It was resting on a beam against the wall.
“Below it were three, very recently deceased house rats, and I could see it had eaten one too!
“Four house rats taken out.
“An example to prove what effective rat controllers these snakes are,” he said.
Evans said the rats obviously dropped off the beam after being bitten, and the mamba did not have an easy way to get down to them.
He said the snake must have seen people, which deterred it from retrieving the rats.
“Fortunately for me, it was an easy catch.
“I just gently pulled its head down so that I could grab it, and that was that.
“Decent-sized mamba, well-fed!
“Yes, it would be ideal to rather leave it to eat the rats.
“The chance of one biting someone is slim.
“But the workers really aren’t comfortable about the mamba’s presence, especially after the first one there fell out of the roof, chasing a rat, among the chickens,” he said.
Evans said the snake would be released away from people.
“I am not saying you must have black mambas in or around your house.
“I’m just trying to highlight the job they’re doing in our reserves/greenbelts, and that job is not killing people,” he said.
“They help control indigenous rodent populations, dassie/hyrax populations, and, they are highly effective exterminators of the invasive house rat, a species that has spread all around the world,” he said.
Evans said he sees rats in or around many of the homes he goes to.
“Just about everyone has rats on their properties at some point, but places where there’s a lot of rubbish or animal feed will obviously have more than the average household,” he said.
Rats can carry disease, cause damage around homes by chewing wires among other things and feed on crops, he said.
“Durban has an enormous house rat population, but fortunately, some natural predators help keep numbers down.
“Black mambas are top class controllers of house rats, and indigenous rodent species.
“Brown house snakes, a non-venomous constrictor, also help.
“Owls help big time, but sadly their populations in Durban aren’t high due to rat poisons etc,” said Evans.
He said Durban’s rat population is one of the reasons why there is a healthy mamba population too.