'They saw snake tail disappear into the engine bay'
A QUICK trip to the shops turned into a two-hour ordeal for one Gympie woman when a red-belly black snake made her car's engine bay its home.
According to reptile handler Julie Smith, the woman was saved from potentially serious harm by the kindness of strangers.
"(She) was parked outside the IGA shopping centre, and some kids very kindly ... waited for her to come out and said to her they'd seen the tail disappearing up into the engine bay," she said.
"They first of all phoned the police to see what they should do.
"The police referred her to the local snake catcher which was me, and I went out and had a look for her."
Owner of Accounting for Fauna, Ms Smith said the woman had been "panic struck", and "didn't want to go anywhere near her car", which was probably the best thing she could do.
"She was very sensible and left everything where it was," she said.
"I had a look under the engine bay and saw it poking out underneath."
It took more than an hour to corral the snake, which had chosen the engine bay because of its warmth.
While it was not uncommon for snakes to tuck up inside cars on acreages, to have it happen in the middle of the city was much less likely.
"For it to crawl into a busy shopping centre... is fairly rare."
While people should be aware of the problem, Ms Smith said for some cars the engine bay was not the only point of entry.
"One of the other concerns is with the older cars, they can find their way through the bulkhead of the car and into the car."
Ms Smith advised people to take care if they thought something was not right.
"If they hear something that they're not happy with, take a great deal of caution and people like myself are quite happy to go an check things for them.
"It's always a good idea if you get a picture on your mobile phone, forward it to us for an ID any time, day or not."