Scaly case of albino python Munchie ends well
It's enough to cause a hissy fit - a 3m Burmese python on the loose in a Johannesburg suburb.
For more than a month, terrified residents of Berario in Northcliff were on their toes after resident Hugo Erasmus announced on the neighbourhood Facebook page that his pet albino python Munchie had escaped.
Despite the sweltering heat, doors and windows were kept firmly shut in case the giant reptile slithered in for a surprise visit.
Aadil Davis, who lives four houses down, didn't see the post.
So when he stumbled across Munchie curled up in his back garden on Tuesday he was, understandably, shaken.
He beat a hasty retreat and phoned snake catcher Steve Ellis. Munchie was quickly bagged and tagged, but the drama didn't end there.
Davis's wife Raz posted his discovery on another community Facebook page.
News quickly got back to Erasmus that his beloved reptile had been found.
But when an overjoyed Erasmus contacted Ellis, he refused to hand over the slippery serpent, concerned that Erasmus had been negligent by not securing the snake.
It was only after Erasmus called on the Honeydew police to assist that Munchie was finally reunited with his main squeeze.
A relieved Erasmus told the Sunday Times he had been distraught when Munchie escaped from his 3m x 3m enclosure.
"People really freaked out when I posted this, but the response from residents has been great. Some even offered to help find my snake," he said.
Neighbour Nomfundo Khumalo said she had been living in fear and keeping her windows closed.
"Ever since I saw that message, I haven't sat in my garden or walked on the street because you never know where you could bump into that snake," she said.
Another neighbour, 83-year-old Yvonne Swanepoel, said she had been praying that Munchie would be found by "a good person who would not kill him".
Davis said he had found the snake after his dogs were "barking endlessly".
"It was a real shock. I spotted a huge yellow thing in the bushes," he said. He joked that the upside to Munchie's escape was that "rats in the area have disappeared".
Ellis told the Sunday Times he had been reluctant to give the snake back to Erasmus because he felt he had been irresponsible.
"That is a big and dangerous animal and it can do huge damage to young kids and animals. Imagine if it ate a dog.
"I just wanted him to take responsibility for his action and know that owning such a dangerous animal comes with a great responsibility," he said.
When the Sunday Times visited Erasmus this week, Munchie was back in his enclosure, which has a water feature with rocks.
Erasmus said he suspects Munchie escaped through the window. He has come up with other ventilation options to make sure the snake does not escape again.