By Jack Hayes
A CBD resident awoke to a scaley surprise, finding a baby spotted python, otherwise known as the “cat eater”, in their thirteenth-floor apartment during the early hours of April 20.
It isn’t known how the snake got be there, who it belongs to and if there were further reptiles in hiding, after investigations by the building’s manager came to no clear conclusion.
The resident, who wished to remain unnamed, came across the uninvited house guest in her bedroom at 1am when she decided to call for help.
“I just googled ‘snake removalist’ and they came in about 45 minutes. They explained it was definitely someone’s pet. These snakes are native to Queensland, so there is no way it made its way here by itself,” she said.
“I spoke to my building manager and he called around the building to find out if anyone was missing the snake. No one came forward, potentially because the owner did not have a licence.”
It is an offence in Victoria to have a spotted python as a pet without a Basic Wildlife Licence, with maximum penalties associated with taking and, or being in possession of unlawfully taken protected wildlife ranging from $7750 to $37,000 and/or six to 24 months imprisonment.
Licensed snake catcher Raymond Hoser reluctantly got out of bed and made the 40-minute drive to remove the slippery trespasser.
Mr Hoser said that he thought the snake was an escaped pet as it was non-venomous and while it was possible a larger snake had laid eggs that had hatched in the building, Mr Hoser said that was unlikely.
“This is not the first time a snake has turned up in the middle of the CBD. I get about six a year in and around the CBD, including a red-bellied black snake at McDonald’s, South Melbourne on Melbourne Cup day last year,” Mr Hoser said.
“I also found a tiger snake at a backpackers lodge in Queen St a year earlier – it is rare for a snake to turn up in a high-rise apartment.”
“The last one to turn up in a high-rise apartment or similar was a tiger snake that had stowed away in luggage that turned up at the Salvo apartments, Ringwood.”
Mr Hoser said pythons could grow large and the big ones were known to frequently eat cats, hence their name “cat eaters”.
The spotted python must by law be handed in to a state government representative where they will make a considered assessment as to what to do with the snake after making all proper enquiries.
Every year in Melbourne there is a spike in calls for pythons in the April and May period, turning up in suburban homes, with Mr Hoser averaging about five to 10 a season.
All are handed in to the government. Some are kept by zoos or otherwise re-homed and unfortunately some are euthanised due to biosecurity or other risks.
In the unlikely event you find a scaly escapee in your apartment, you can call Mr Hoser on 0412 777 211 or head to snakebusters.com.au •