A man bravely pulled a 7ft-long Black Mamba from a car engine after the deadly snake slithered under the bonnet to escape from people attacking it.
Snake aficionado Jason Arnold came to the rescue when the driver of the car became trapped inside, fearing the highly venomous beast would bite him if he tried to get out.
Universal Reptiles employee Mr Arnold said: “He heard people screaming and shouting and saw a big snake underneath the overhang of the building.”
The huge snake – which administers venom that can kill a human in just 20 minutes – was then seen wriggling under the man’s car in the South African city of Durban after witnesses threw things at it.
Mr Arnold added: “The driver saw it go under his car but was scared to get out in case it came out the other side.
“People surrounding his car told him it hadn’t come out, so he closed his windows so the snake wouldn’t get in.”
It was not clear how long the man stayed in his car but he eventually summoned the courage to open the door and dash out.
Mr Arnold went on: “There were hundreds of spectators. We had to bring the police in to cordon off the area, closing off one lane, because I was scared that when I started searching for the snake and it no longer felt safe in the car it would dart out into the crowd.”
But although witnesses were sure they had seen the snake go under the car, Mr Arnold could not find it.
He said: “I even stuck my head under the car but there was no sign of it.”
Mr Arnold, who had the car towed to a quieter street, added: “We weren’t there for five minutes (and) when I opened the bonnet, there it was.
“It must have been disturbed by the wind, as it had made its way into the engine compartment.
“The snake was obviously scared and didn’t want to come out, it wanted to stay where it felt safe.”
A video shows Mr Arnold carefully extracting the snake’s coils from inside the engine compartment.
He thinks the highly dangerous black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) had been in the vehicle of another driver who unwittingly gave it a lift into the town from its countryside home.