CANBERRA, Australia – Helaina Alati was walking through the spice aisle of an Australian supermarket when she came face to face with a huge snake.
The 10-foot non-venomous diamond python’s head emerged through a space in a shelf above the spice jars in the Sydney store.
“I was in the spice aisle looking for something to put on my chicken that night so I didn’t see him at first because he was curled up behind the little spice jars.” Alati said on Wednesday. “I kind of turned to my right and he stuck his head out. “
Alati, who coincidentally is a trained snake catcher, said the snake’s head was within eight inches of his own.
“Fortunately, I have a background in snakes, so I was pretty calm about it. It definitely shocked me a bit because I wasn’t expecting it, ”she added.
The Woolworths supermarket chain confirmed in a statement that a “slippery and rare customer was spotted in the spice aisle” Monday morning at its store on the outskirts of Glenorie, on the northwestern suburb of Sydney.
“Once he was sighted, our team members reacted quickly and calmly to cordon off the area for the safety of customers,” the statement said.
Alati said she used her phone to film the snake as it spread its body from the shelf in the aisle before reporting the intruder to supermarket staff.
“I said, ‘I’m going to get my snake bag.’ I think they thought I was a little crazy to be honest. I don’t think they knew what to say when I said there was a 10ft python in your driveway, ”Alati said.
She retrieved the snake catching bag from her neighboring house and grabbed the snake, which had then retreated to the shelf. She then released him to the nearby woods.
It is not known how or when the snake entered the supermarket.
Alati, who was trained to catch venous snakes when she volunteered with a Sydney wildlife rescue organization several years ago, suspected the snake was a male looking for a mate.
“I knew right away that it wasn’t poisonous, it wasn’t aggressive, it wasn’t going to be a problem for anyone,” said Alati.
“If anything, I think everyone was a little excited. We’re all confined so it was kind of like the most exciting we’ve had in quite some time, ”she added.