There’s A Snake in the Grass

There was great excitement in the bush recently. A huge snake: ‘Probably a Black Mamba’ we were told, (every snake seen in these parts is assumed to be a black mamba as it is one of the most feared snakes in this area), had killed and was busy eating a buck.

People came from miles around to view this spectacular sighting – forgetting the most fundamental rule in the bush – any animal or reptile is at its most dangerous while protecting it’s young, or it’s prey!

The snake was gigantic, almost 4 metres in length, and what was assumed to be a black mamba, turned out to be a lovely big African Rock python.

The snake was about 5 metres into the bush from the dirt road, and by the time we got there, people had already walked a track through the bush and created a lovely path to the reptile, so finding him was very easy. The bulge in his stomach was huge – it had swallowed a baby Bushbuck.

A lady had filmed the entire show, with the fretting Bushbuck mother standing by, unable to rescue her baby. The snake had quietly approached the baby buck, waited until the mother’s back was turned, then wrapped itself around the buck, suffocating the infant with its coils, and then proceeded swallowing it. You can imagine what a sight that must have been – a snake’s mouth is quite small in comparison to an entire baby buck, but a python can dislocate its jaw, for it to be able to swallow the buck, then re-align it, once done.

After the snake had swallowed the buck, he could not move. He rolled under a tree for protection and settled down to wait for the buck to digest which could take up to 7 days. He was pretty safe, or so he thought.

He never expected – what was to him a natural process of eating his prey – to cause such a stir amongst the human population. Soon, people were coming from far and wide to view this spectacle. Most people watched quietly, some brought cameras and snapped away, awestruck at the sight of this massive snake with this prominent bulge in its stomach.

Eventually, after about four days, the snake was able to move a little and was becoming irritated with the people who disturbed him regularly, so the local Rangers cordoned off the area and allowed no more access to the snake. He disappeared into the bush a few days later, not needing to eat for a very long time to come.

Never a dull moment in the bush. Even regular everyday tasks like eating can become a significant spectacle.