Here's a friendly warning: If you’re driving on a back road in Africa and you hear a hissing sound from under the hood, you might have more than a coolant leak to deal with. This recently uploaded YouTube clip shows Zimbabwean farmer Ben Mostert tackling a sizeable African rock python that had slithered into his vehicle’s engine bay.

Understandably, the clip has been getting a lot of attention online, but the video doesn’t tell the whole story – Mostert’s snake tale has another twist. "That was the second time the python was caught that day," he explains to CNN.

Before its stowaway status, the snake had become something of a permanent fixture around the Mostert family farmhouse. In fact, even previous tenants had warned of a resident python responsible for the disappearance of multiple lambs on the farm.

Like the lambs, the Mosterts' cat also went missing, and it was clear that the python had become a problem. So when Mostert discovered the snake visiting the chicken coop last week, he captured the large reptile, wrestled it into a grain bag, and relocated it about four miles from the house, well away from human habitation.

But the snake refused to stay away. Instead of embracing its new habitat, it slithered up the front wheel of Mostert’s vehicle and into the radiator, leaving the farmer to ponder his next move.

Mostert opted for an unusual approach: he drove around slowly in the hope that the snake might uncoil itself and drop to the road (for the record, this might not have been the best idea as the snake could easily have been hurt or killed in the process – and African rock pythons are a protected species). Mostert eventually stopped and popped the hood to find the python coiled around the engine.

This isn’t the first time a python has hitched a ride in an engine bay. When threatened, most snakes will avoid confrontation and bolt for cover instead – and a warm, concealed space (like a car's engine bay) makes for an ideal retreat. In 2013, a similar scenario unfolded in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, and python hitchhikers have also been spotted in Australia.


Header image: Arno Meintjes