Most of us would be a fair bit perturbed to see a 10-foot python protruding from the spice shelves of our local grocery store, but former volunteer snake-catcher Helaina Alati is not your average shopper. For the sneaky snake that slithered its way into a Sydney supermarket recently, it's just as well that it decided to peek out just as Alati was browsing the spice aisle.

"It just wanted to say hello," Alati told the Guardian. "It’s lucky I was the one it popped out to ... Most people would have freaked out." Instead, Alati calmly informed staff at the store about the, er, 'mislabelled item on the shelf' and offered to zip home to grab her snake-catching gear to safely capture and release the shop invader. The area was temporarily cordoned off by staff while they waited for their fortuitous heroine to return.

The snake – a sizeable, but non-venomous diamond python – was initially curled up out of sight behind the spices. “Dozens of people must have walked past it,” Alati reckoned, adding that it was very relaxed and not at all aggressive. "It wasn’t in a defensive position. It slithered right into the bag." Alati was able to release the python into some nearby woodlands where it quickly disappeared. "I’m used to seeing snakes in weird places but I wouldn’t expect it to be in a Woolworths," the snake-catcher quipped.

Diamond pythons are nocturnal constrictors found in vast bushland areas and national parks across the coastal areas of New South Wales. Their lethargic nature means that the predators often go undetected (until, of course, they turn up behind the cumin). It's unclear what prompted this snake to explore the supermarket shelves, but the pythons typically bask in trees and sometimes in roofs and rafters during the day, so it's possible the spice-raider was looking for a warm spot to rest up until nightfall.

Luckily for this python, in Australia, the odds that the person you poke your neck out at is a bonafide snake-catcher are pretty good it seems, which earned the snake a one-way ticket back to the wilderness.

Header image: Golgarth