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Python Spotted by a Completely Appropriate Grocery Shopper

Helaina Alati, who encountered the 10-foot-long diamond python, is a snake catcher
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2021 10:25 AM CDT
Snake Surprises Completely Appropriate Grocery Shopper
In this image made from video provided by Helaina Alati, a snake protrudes from grocery store spices shelf, Monday, Aug. 16 2021, in Sydney, Australia.   (Helaina Alati via AP)

(Newser) – Helaina Alati was browsing the spice aisle of an Australian supermarket when she came face-to-face with a huge snake. The head of the 10-foot-long non-venomous diamond python emerged through a space in a shelf in the Woolworths in the suburb of Glenorie on Sydney’s northwest outskirts. "I was in the spice aisle just looking for something to put on my chicken that night so I didn't initially see it because it was curled up way back behind the little jars of spices," Alati said Wednesday. "I kind of turned to my right and it poked its head out."

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Alati, who coincidently is a trained snake catcher, said the snake's head came to within 8 inches of her own, reports the AP. "Thankfully, I have a background in snakes so I was pretty calm about it. It definitely shocked me a little bit because I wasn’t expecting it," she added. Alati said she used her phone to video the snake as it extended its body from the shelf into the aisle before reporting the intruder to supermarket staff. 'I said: 'I'll go get my snake bag.' I think they thought I was a bit crazy to be honest. I don’t think they knew what to say when I said there’s a 10-foot python in your aisle," Alati said.

She retrieved the snake-catching bag from her nearby home and caught the snake, which had by then retreated back into the shelf. She then released it into nearby woodlands. It’s unclear how or when the snake entered the supermarket. Alati, who was trained to catch venomous snakes when she was a volunteer working for a Sydney wildlife rescue organization several years ago, suspected the snake was a male looking for a mate. (Read more snake stories.)

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