An Australian woman was awoken by her hissing cat early Sunday to find a python wrapped around the arm of her 2-year-old daughter.
Tess Guthrie, a 22-year-old from Lismore, New South Wales, said the 6-foot python was wrapped three times around her daughter’s arm.
“I thought I was having a nightmare,” Guthrie told a local television news station. “It was only because the cat was hissing that I woke up and saw the snake with its body wrapped around my daughter ZaraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s arm.”
The toddler was sleeping in the bed with Guthrie, who pried the snake off her. But before she could, the nonvenomous python bit the toddler three times on her left hand.
“In my head I was just going through this unbelievable terror, and my thought was that it was going to actually kill her at first, because it was wrapped so tight,” Guthrie told the Brisbane Times. “Her little arm was bleeding really bad from the bites, and all I could feel was blood and Zara was screaming by that stage, and I was in hysterics because it was such a shocking thing to wake up to. It was just terrifying.”
Zara was taken to a local hospital where she was treated and released. The coastal python (or “carper snake”) was captured by a local wildlife official and eventually released back into the wild.
“The snake [had] not in any way, shape or form intended to eat the baby,” Tex Tillis, who runs Tex’s Snake Removals, told the Daily Telegraph. “It was trying to have a group hug.”
“Pythons, underneath their bottom jaw, have a row of sensors which enable them to see the world in terms of infrared pictures,” Tillis explained. “So in the dark they’re going to see a baby as this warm spot.”
Of course, snake invasions are nothing new down under.
Last month, a 3-year-old Australian boy escaped injury after a collection of eggs he had found in his Queensland yard and stashed in his bedroom closet “hatched into a slithering tangle of deadly snakes.”
Also in December, a childcare center in Darwin was forced to be shut down before Christmas because of a snake infestation. According to ABC Australia, snake catchers who were called in when a baby python was spotted found a nest with 23 baby pythons and 41 hatched eggs inside a wall.