The python greeted the woman from the spice shelves — luckily, she happened to be a snake rescuer.
• Snake slithers out of spice shelves at Sydney supermarket
• Shopper Helaina Alati, who happens to be a former snake catcher, was luckily on hand to return the three-metre python to nearby bushland
A three-metre-long python has surprised shoppers in a Sydney supermarket by slithering along a shelf in the spice section with a Woolworths spokesperson saying it was a “slippery and rare customer.”
A grocery run turned into a snake rescue for an Australian woman when she was greeted by a python poking out from a supermarket shelf.
Helaina Alati, 25, was at a Sydney store on Monday when the 3m non-venomous snake slithered out.
Fellow shopper Helaina was browsing spices for Monday night’s dinner when she turned her head to the right and “just 20cm from my face” saw the diamond python. “It just wanted to say hello,” she told Guardian Australia.
“Only in Australia!” Hilary Leigh wrote in a Facebook post when sharing a video of the large snake at the Glenorie supermarket in Sydney’s north-west.
Alati said it was initially curled up behind the spices. “Dozens of people must have walked past it,” she said.
Once sighted, Woolworths staff “reacted quickly and calmly” to cordon off the area for customer safety, the supermarket spokesperson said.
The Woolworths supermarket lies on the edge of a large expanse of bushland on the city's north- west outskirts.
But encountering a snake in the spice aisle is not what Ms Alati expected.
Fortunately for both parties, Ms Alati is a wildlife rescuer and familiar with snakes.
"I just turned my head and he was about 20cm from my face, just looking straight at me," she said.
She did a double-take but remained calm. No one else was around.
Recognising it instantly as a diamond python, Ms Alati knew it wasn't venomous as it protruded and flicked its tongue.
"He was looking straight at me the whole time, almost like he was saying: 'Can you take me outside please?'" she said.
After filming the snake, Ms Alati alerted staff and said she could help them get it out.
She retrieved a snake bag from her home, returned to the store, "tapped him on the tail and he just slithered in".
She then released it away from houses in bushland - a natural habitat for the species around Sydney.
'Like a scene from Harry Potter'
A trained snake handler, Ms Alati has conducted at least 20 snake rescues before.
She says her friends have previously joked about her being "the snake girl", referencing a zoo scene in a Harry Potter film where the boy wizard finds that he can talk to snakes.
Ms Alati says she can't speak Parseltongue like Harry, but "that scene's been mentioned to me a few times".
"They kind of just gravitate to me, like maybe they just sense that I'm the kind of person into caring and protecting animals," she said.
"To be honest, it's the most exciting thing that's happened in a little while given lockdown. The staff were all taking photos of it."
Australia's largest city has been in a lockdown since June to fight a Delta outbreak. Grocery shopping is one of the few reasons people are allowed to leave their homes.
Ms Alati said she suspected the snake had been in the shop overnight, probably initially in the ceiling where diamond pythons like to nestle.
It had probably lurked on the shelf all morning as "dozens of people... passed it and grabbed spices", she added.
“It’s lucky I was the one it popped out to,” Alati said. “Most people would have freaked out.”
Previously a volunteer snake catcher, she was able to retrieve the necessary equipment from her nearby home to safely remove the non-venomous snake. She released it into nearby bushland.
“It was chill, and not aggressive at all,” Alati said.
“It wasn’t in a defensive position. It slithered right into the bag. I’m used to seeing snakes in weird places but I wouldn’t expect it to be in a Woolworths.”
Diamond pythons are found in bushland areas and the national parks of Sydney, but often go undetected because of their nocturnal and slow-moving habits, the Australian Museum says.
“The diamond python is not as widespread in Sydney as it once was and, although it is not considered endangered, it is under pressure from habitat destruction,” the museum states on its website.
“Pythons are non-venomous but can inflict a painful bite. Teeth can break off and remain embedded in the victim.”
Glenorie is a rural suburb of Sydney on the city’s outskirts.
Source: The Guardian
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