Hiss off! Venomous snake takes refuge in Australian man’s engine bay

The red-bellied black snake can grow to more than 8 feet long.

A man who went out for a walk in suburban Sydney got quite a surprise when he returned to his red Mazda. Left on his windshield was a hand-written note warning him that a venomous red-bellied black snake had taken up residence in his car.

"Hi," the note read, "this afternoon a red Belly slithered up into your front left tyre. Please be careful."

The snake is a native of wet areas of eastern Australia that can grow up to 2.5 meters (about 8 feet), making it one of Australia's largest venomous snakes. They're considered dangerous, but shy, unlikely to bite unless severely agitated.

When Michael Garbutt popped the hood, he found the snake coiled up inside in the corner.

"To say I was shocked is an understatement," he told The Sydney Morning Herald. "On reflection I don't think I would have put my hand out to pop the bonnet if I had known it was there."

So he took to Google to look for a local snake wrangler and found Andrew Melrose, of Shire Snake Catchers. By the time he arrived, the snake had moved down into the engine. Then it moved behind the wheel guard, and then under the engine to the front bumper, then back to the right front wheel. Melrose said he coaxed it out by gently touching its body.

"I've done it my whole life," he said. "It looks simple but if you haven't done it before you can get killed real quick."

In the end, Melrose ended up grabbing the snake from the ground outside of the car and dropping it in a bag. The whole de-snaking process took about an hour.

Melrose said the snake is common on the swampy peninsula area where it was found, since it finds plenty of frogs, eels and other creatures to eat. He says it's common to find them in cars.

"If they get startled they look for the first place that is safe," he said. "The place I found it was very bare. There was no place for the snake to escape. People would have startled it and the only place for it to hide was the car. The driver could have driven off unaware and parked and the snake would have left the car when it felt safe."

So let this be a lesson for you, Autoblog readers: familiarize yourself with your local venomous snakes. And keep the number of your local snake wrangler handy at all times. Or just don't move to Australia.

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