Deadly venomous snake found lurking inside Christmas tree by terrified family
A family was haunted by Christmas horror instead of Xmas cheer when they discovered a venomous snake lurking in the festive tree.
The holiday season usually brings joy and excitement over what lies beneath the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, but for Rob and MarcelaWild their biggest shock came from what was on the branches themselves.
The Wilds found the deadly snake hiding between the tinsel and baubles at their home in South Africa on Friday.
Having decorated the tree only hours earlier they noticed their cats staring at its branches – and the feline friends were not admiring the decor.
Brit Rob, a stock market trader who moved with his Costa Rican wife to South Africa 18 years ago, was horrified.
He said: “The cats were peering into the tree and my wife said ‘there’s probably a mouse in there somewhere.'”
But they soon found out that it was a different creature staring right back, a boomslang.
“I didn’t know what it was at the time but then I Googled what snakes are in our area and it came up immediately as a boomslang. I thought ‘holy Moses, this is the king of all poisonous snakes,'” the 55-year-old said.
The boomslang, a shy species, is one of the most venomous in Africa.
The anima's venom can cause hemorrhages and even be fatal to humans in the smallest dose.
Snake catcher Gerrie Heyns confirmed it was a boomslang when he arrived at the family's home in Roberston, Western Cape.
The female creature was between 1.3metres (4.3foot) and 1.5metres (4.9ft) long.
He said he informed the family to stay away from the tree for safety, but also said to "keep their eyes on the snake" until he could get there.
“The snake stayed in the tree for two hours until I got there,” Heyns said. He used “snake tongs” to place it on the floor, where it was “easier to handle,” he added.
“Once I had it under control 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.
He managed to place it in a 'snake tube' and took the reptile home temporarily before releasing back into the wild on Sunday.
He believes the snake would have ventured inside looking for food, water and shelter.
And it may have tried to escape into the tree as a hiding place if it was spooked.
Heyns says bites from boomslang are rare, and in his eight years catching snakes he has only been bitten once.
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