A family in South Africa who had finished decorating their Christmas tree hours earlier had a terrifying unexpected visitor, when a ‘venomous boomslang’ snake slithered out of their tree in between the ornaments and tinsel, according to a published report.
“The cats were peering into the tree and my wife said ‘there’s probably a mouse in there somewhere,’” Rob Wild told CNN.
Wild said once he took a better look, it wasn’t a mouse at all, but very much a long slinky snake.
Wild said he immediately went online and googled “what snakes are in our area? He said, “it immediately came up as a boomslang.’”
“I thought ‘holy Moses, this is the king of all poisonous snakes,’” said the British stock market trader.
The Wilds didn’t waste any time and called in the ‘Snake Catcher,’ aka Gerrie Heyns.
Heyns told the family to stay away from the tree until he arrived, but to “keep their eyes on the snake.”
“The snake stayed in the tree for two hours until I got there,” Heyns told CNN.
Heyns used ”snake tongs” to place it on the floor, where it was “easier to handle.”
“It wasn’t an easy catch as it was very nippy and it kept going up and down and round and round the tree and I was trying not to upset the decorations or lights,” he said.
Once he had the snake in his care and “under control,” he said, “the family came right up to see the snake.”
“It didn’t try to bite or be defensive because I gave it no reason to. A scary moment turned into an exciting moment for the children,” Heyns said, CNN reported.
Upon exiting the Wild home, the snake catcher held the snake behind its neck and placed it in a “snake tube.” He said he took the reptile home where he temporarily housed it in a snake enclosure before releasing it back into the wild on Sunday.
According to experts, the female boomslang snake is one of Africa’s most venomous snakes of the family Colubridae. The slender snake grows to about 6 feet in length. It is usually found in savannas through sub-Saharan Africa.
The snake’s venom can be fatal to humans even in small amounts, but they are shy animals and rarely bite.
Heyns said the snake that entered their house was female and between 4 and 5 feet long. He said it was most likely looking for food water and shelter. He also said that bites from a boomslang are rare, USA Today reported.
After the ordeal, the Wild family went about their day.
”I was wishing for a lot of things to be under the tree for Christmas Day but one thing I wasn’t wishing for was a 4-foot long poisonous snake,” he said.