An Australian toddler had a lucky escape after being attacked by a python which wrapped itself around the sleeping child's arm and then began constricting and biting the infant.
Snake handler Tex Tillis said the two-year-old girl's mother woke at 3am on Saturday to find the 1.85 metre reptile coiling around her child as they lay in bed in Lismore, about 600 kilometres north of Sydney.
"She saw three coils of what looked like a snake around her baby's arm. She naturally freaked, but with presence of mind... she went for what she thought was the snake's head," Tillis said yesterday.
But in the dark, the mother grabbed the snake too far below its head, causing the reptile to panic and attack.
"It immediately started to constrict the baby's arm and to bite the baby," he said. "The mother then very courageously... pulled the snake off the baby."
Tillis said the mother did not know the python, commonly known as a carpet snake, was non-venomous when she ripped it off her child and flung it into the corner of the room.
The toddler was taken to hospital but suffered only three superficial wounds, said Tillis, adding that he later took the snake to visit the child and her mother, who named it Cecil.
The animal was released unharmed back into the wild, at the insistence of the mother.