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A MOTHER woke to find a 1.85m-long python wrapped around her two-year-old daughter yesterday morning.
Tess Guthrie, 22, from Lismore on the far north coast, was woken by her cat hissing at 3.30am and discovered the python wrapped three times around her daughter Zara's arm, who was sleeping in the bed with her.
At first she thought it was a dream but soon realised the horror and grabbed the snake by the head to pry it off her child, which caused the reptile to bite Zara three times on her left hand.
"After we went to the hospital and Tex came, they found the snake sort of down behind the bedside table and in-between the wall but I don't doubt he was there for days," she told the local TV station.
Zara was treated at Lismore Base Hospital and released yesterday morning.
Tex Tillis, from Tex's Snake Removals, who removed the reptile, said the coastal python, or carpet snake, wasn't trying to hurt the child.
"The snake, not in any way, shape or form, had intended to eat the baby - was trying to have a group hug," he told The Daily.
"Pythons, underneath their bottom jaw they have a row of sensors which enable them to see the world in terms of infrared pictures. So in the dark they're going to see a baby as this warm spot."
Ms Guthrie said she had noticed that her cat had been behaving out of character in the days leading up to the python's appearance.
"She's a very resourceful lady," Mr Tillis said. "She tried to grab its head but got six inches down which left the head to bite the baby.
"When you grab a snake, a snake in its reptilian brain thinks, 'anything that can grab me can also eat me'."
Mr Tillis estimates the python to be 5-10 years old: "by no means a big fella - they grow much, much bigger."
But Ms Guthrie insisted that the reptile not be killed and instead it was released back into the wild about 5km from the house.
Mr Tillis said: "Not only is she courageous and gutsy but she's compassionate."
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