A 10-foot-long snake popped out at a woman in a grocery store in Sydney, Australia, earlier this week, but she was coincidentally also a trained snake catcher.
Helaina Alati was browsing in the spice aisle of Australian supermarket chain Woolworths when the non-venomous diamond python popped its head out of the shelves.
“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 the told the Associated Press on Wednesday. “I kind of turned to my right and it poked its head out.”
“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, saying that the snake came within eight inches of her face.
She told the AP she recorded a video of the snake on her phone as it slithered from the shelf into the aisle and alerted a grocery employee about it. Alati said she received previously was trained in catching venomous snakes while volunteering for a Sydney wildlife rescue organization several years ago.
“I said: ‘I’ll go get my snake bag.’ I think they thought I was a bit crazy to be honest,” Alati told the AP. “I don’t think they knew what to say when I said there’s a 10-foot python in your aisle.”
Alati said she caught the python with her snake-catching bag and released it into the wild nearby.
Woolworths confirmed in a statement Monday morning that a “slippery and rare customer was spotted in the spice aisle” at one of its stores in Glenorie, one of Sydney’s northwest suburbs.
“Once it was sighted, our team members reacted quickly and calmly to cordon off the area for the safety of customers,” the statement said, citing the AP report.
While the snake came as a surprise, Alati said she knew “straight away” that it was non-venomous and non-aggressive, so “it wasn’t going to be a problem for anyone.”
“If anything, I think everyone was a little bit excited. We’re all in lockdown so it was kind of like the most excitement we’ve had for a while,” she told the AP.