The staff at a local grocery store in Sydney, Australia were not ready for the cleanup they faced in the spice aisle earlier this week — a giant snake.
A shocking viral video shows a 10-foot snake poking its head out from behind various spices at a grocery store after somehow making its way to the upper shelf. The Associated Press notes that the incident happened at a Woolworths chain and the company confirmed the “slippery and rare customer” was indeed spotted in one of its stores. The chain was clearly trying to distract and be cute about the situation by using the word “customer,” unless of course, the snake made a purchase before the video was filmed.
The Associated Press also notes that it’s unclear how or where the snake entered the supermarket, meaning it could happen to literally anyone at any time and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done to prevent this horrifying experience in your local spice aisle — shop well, friends. See the “customer” visiting below.
Fortunately, the snake revealed itself to the exact right person in this case. Helaina Alati, 25, is the brave woman who got up-close-and-personal with what she identified as a diamond python that got within eight inches of her face. The reason she was able to quickly identify the slithering nightmare was because she just so happens to be a wildlife rescuer who works directly with snakes. The self-described “snake girl” told the BBC that she was surprised to see it in the grocery store, of course, but immediately knew it wasn’t venomous and was able to warn staff, explain what to do, and even help out herself… after snapping the now-viral video first, of course.
Indeed diamond pythons, while native to the area, don’t typically act aggressively toward humans. Instead, they feed mostly on lizards, possums, mice, rats, and sometimes birds — their prey are typically unseasoned, although it seems from this incident that more research has to be done on that. However, according to the Australia Museum, their teeth can sometimes break off in their victims and embed themselves there, meaning it’s still a good idea for a trained snake handler to deal with any that pop up in your local grocery store.
And handle it Alati did. While the staff of the grocery store blocked off the area, she remained cool as a cucumber and rushed to her nearby home to grab her “snake bag,” which is apparently a thing. She managed to humanely capture the python and release it back into a nearby wooded area without any incident. She noted that many people were excited to see something out of the ordinary like this at their local grocery store given how starved for new things the people in Sydney are amid yet another lockdown posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While it seems like the story may have a happy ending, The New York Post notes that the story itself is unfortunate. While not endangered, there are significantly fewer diamond python snakes in Australia than there used to be. Experts reportedly chalk it up to the fact that their habitat is being destroyed, thus pushing them to odd places like a Woolworth’s spice aisle.