A PYTHON has hitched a ride in the car of a Stawell family returning from summer holidays near Geelong.
The family has returned home and gone into the garage the next morning to find the python having a relaxing time.
Snake catcher Gianni Hodgson said he was called out to catch the python, which was non-venomous, and quickly realised it was a pet due to its tame behaviour and willingness to be hand fed.
"No one in Stawell or Ararat was missing a python so it it must have hitch hiked from Geelong to Stawell," he said.
"It must have gone into the bonnet or engine.
"I surrendered it to a vet in Melbourne which has put him up for adoption. It's definitely good I found the vet because otherwise I'd legally have to euthanize him, which is one thing I'd never ever want to do."
Mr Hodgson said snakes catching rides in cars was actually fairly common but that people should simply keep their distance and call a snake catcher - advice Mr Hodgson said applies to any snake sighting.
"The risk is actually pretty minimal," he said.
"The only reason a snake might chase a person is if they've had a bad experience with people ... or if you startle it. Snakes don't have an endless supply of venom so if they bite you they are going to need a couple of days to resupply, which means they can't eat."
The Australian Snakebite Project is a study that has recorded snake bites across a 10 year period.
The researchers found almost 15 per cent of bites were the result of an untrained person tried to catch and/or kill a snake. 73 per cent of those bitten were male, and the median age was 38.
"Snake bites occur when someone is trying to go at it with a shovel or something," he said.
Trying to remove a snake yourself can carry financial risk as well.
"It's illegal (to kill a snake) and you can get find $7500 plus and you can also get jail time for it," he said.
However, it's very difficult to police the issue and Mr Hodgson said he had reached out to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to find out how to track it.
"They haven't responded to me," Mr Hodgson said.
Another outcome of killing snakes impacted farmers, Mr Hodgson said.
Snakes are an apex predator and play a key role in controlling rodent populations.
"If we're talking farms, we're talking grain, feed and hay," he said.
"If you kill one snake that's 10,000 more mice in that year. A snake will eat two mice a week. Those mice would breed and have 15 babies every six weeks."
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