Woman Finds Python Snake While Unpacking Holiday Suitcase: 'She Thought It Was a Joke Until She Touched It'

spotted python
A small spotted python had hidden itself inside a Scottish tourist's beige slip-on shoes. Creative Commons/Pixabay

A python recovered from a woman's shoe is now being held in a quarantine after traveling halfway around the world from Australia to the United Kingdom.

When Scottish tourist Moira Boxall discovered a small spotted python hidden inside one of her beige slip-on shoes, the initially thought she had been the victim of an elaborate prank.

According to the the Australian broadcaster ABC, the reptile had made it onboard Boxall's flight from Queensland, Australia, to Glasgow, Scotland, after slithering into her shoe. The shoe was then packed into a suitcase, and the snake discovered 9,300 miles later, as she unpacked.

Paul Airlie, Boxall's son-in-law and host during a summer holiday at Boxall's daughter's family home in Mackay, Queensland, said the discovery of the tiny python came as something of a shock.

"She was not at all expecting to find the snake when she was unpacking a bag when she got back to Scotland," Airlie said.

He also said that his mother-in-law had feared a snake was inside her room days before she departed back to Britain.

"She had woken up a few days before she left and thought she had seen a snake in her room," said Airlie, who had been pressed into a 3 a.m. search for the creature. "We searched the room and there was no snake. However, it turns out there was a snake, as it had gone and hidden in her shoe."

The snake apparently went unseen for days and may have been packed into the bag by Airlie's wife, Sarah. "Obviously she just picked the shoe up and stuck it in the bag and then it was there," Airlie said. "Somehow or other it got from Mackay to Glasgow without being detected."

Because Boxall had suspected a snake was in her room and because the family had played down the prevalence of snakes in Queensland so as not to alarm her, the Scottish woman thought it was a practical joke and that the snake was a fake. She thought differently when she touched the reptile and it moved.

Boxall took the shoe with the snake still inside into her garden and put a box over it. She then phoned her family in Australia, who contacted an animal welfare charity in Scotland. "We had to tell them it was from Australia and that it could have been a venomous snake," Airlie said. "Luckily we found out it was a spotted python, so it was fine—it could have been worse."

The snake has been put in quarantine and may be housed in a zoo in Glasgow. Boxall may be a little worse for wear by the ordeal. A friend had to unpack the rest of her bag for her because she was worried there might be another snake in her luggage. She may wait awhile before her next trip to Australia.

"She said she's not so keen to come back and visit, but I suspect she will—she'll have to think about it at first," Airlie said.