A Ballito family are traumatized after witnessing a hungry African rock python suffocating their pet beagle pup.
The male python, measuring 4.4m, struck when the puppy went through a hole in the fence separating a housing complex from a nature reserve.
Alec Mackay said their eight-month-old Summer had sprinted out of his house and gone through a hole in the fence at their Seaward Estate home, which borders Zimbali reserve.
“My son pursued Summer under the fence. The python was camouflaged in the grass and coiled itself around Summer,” Mackay said.
A volunteer organisation, the Specialised Rescue Unit, and Neville Wolmarans from Ndlondlo Reptile Park, were called out for assistance on Sunday.
Carmen Power, spokeswoman for Specialised Rescue Unit, said when they arrived the 27kg python was wrapped around Summer.
“Due to the size of the python, four people were needed to safely capture and contain the python with no injuries to the animal or person,” she said. “It became defensive. It was hissing and lunging forward at the reptile team.”
“After a few lunges, the python tried to slither away but was held back by the tail. When it turned to strike Wolmarans, he placed a plastic lid in the way. “He grabbed hold of the head,” Power said.
The reptile team slowly allowed the python to untangle itself from the puppy and they guided it into a container and shut the lid.
“After a few intense minutes, the snake was captured and the puppy was retrieved. Unfortunately, the poor puppy had passed away and there was nothing anyone could do to save her,” Power said.
The Specialised Rescue Unit team helped the family take their pet to the veterinarian where it was cremated.
“The snake was taken to Ndlondlo Reptile Park where it was fed and will be released safely back into the wild. From what we gathered, there is a lack of food in the eco estates in that area so it had been hunting for something to eat,” Power said.
Mackay said the puppy, found in the grips of the python near a storm water pipe, died within seconds.
He said he wanted to erase the memory of witnessing Summer’s death.
“The incident affected my wife who has a heart condition. She went to the hospital for a check-up after the incident.”
The public have been advised to keep a safe distance from any pythons they may encounter and contact the reptile park at 082 561 4969.