When you sign up to be a snake catcher, you probably understand the job comes with a few risks that can’t be covered by most health insurance policies.
It’s not your average desk 9 to 5 so eye strain and back problems take second string to poisonous venom and spine-crushing snake strength, as Cor Viljoen knows only too well after a run-in with a python, he tells.
The Pretorian animal conservationist was working in the field (read: the wilds of Limpopo Province in South Africa rather than a conference centre in Slough) when he encountered a particularly tricky customer.
As the snake catcher tried to make contact with the 9-foot python, in an attempt to move the potentially lethal animal from a local property, the snake sneakily began the long and arduous process of crushing Cor.
Beginning by coiling the unidentified animal catcher by his legs – a very human flaw in the face of a slippery serpent, if there ever was one – Cor, a Field Guide at ATKV-Klein-Kariba, went weak at the knees as he realised this was one vice grip it might be hard to escape.
Laughing, he grappled with the snake’s head as he supported his body weight on a nearby tree. It was only when another came to the man’s rescue he was able to break free of the python’s grip.
I was called [to relocate] a python who was just basking in the sun at one of our mountain cabins. A guest saw her and freaked out. I went down to catch her and, as I was making my way back to the guests over the rocks, she slyly wrapped around my legs.
As you can see, while I was showing the snake to them she started coiling around my legs, but that was just her way to try and get out of my grip. She wasn’t trying to kill me at all, she was just scared.
I could’ve taken her off myself by sitting down but I like the workers to interact with the snakes I catch to educate them a bit. So I wasn’t in any danger at all. She was safely released quite a way away.
Cor also told UNILAD the Southern African Python is the only python found in South Africa and explained that it’s a protected species.
Moral of the story? Don’t mess with the snake. The snake is always right.