A SYDNEY man was out for a leisurely afternoon walk when he returned to his car to find a note on his windscreen.
"This afternoon a red belly slithered up into your front left tyre. Please be careful," a good Samaritan had written to him.
But despite the heads-up, Michael Garbutt wasn't expecting to pop the bonnet of his car to find, as the note had warned, a red-bellied black snake curled up inside.
It was on December 28 when Mr Garbutt headed back to his car near Kurnell skate park in Sydney's south to find the note, telling the Sydney Morning Herald he probably should've taken the warning a little more seriously.
"I popped the bonnet and there it was coiled up underneath," the high school teacher told the publication.
"To say I was shocked is an understatement. On reflection, I don't think I would have put my hand out to pop the bonnet if I had known it was there," he added.
The teacher carefully closed the bonnet, with his little friend still inside, and called Andrew Melrose from Shire Snake Catchers.
Mr Melrose rushed to the scene but realised the rescue wasn't going to be an easy one.
"It took about an hour for the snake catcher to coax it out. The snake was trying to bite the snake hook. The guy ended up catching it with his hand and just chucked it in a bag," Mr Garbutt told the Herald.
In a Facebook post, Mr Melrose agreed the snake had made himself pretty comfortable in the vehicle.
"It was a difficult job getting him to finally come out, as he had a remarkable ability to find every great hiding spot throughout the engine and panels of the car. But we were happy to finally get him out with a good ending for all," he wrote.
Mr Melrose, who has been catching snakes his whole life, said red-bellies are especially common around Kurnell.
"I've [caught] hundreds of black snakes out there," he said. "Because the peninsula is swampland, the snakes live there because they eat frogs and eels. They are out there but they are quite inoffensive unless you touch them."
Mr Garbutt's startling discovery comes less than a week after a Queensland woman was given a particularly nasty Christmas surprise.
A Sunshine Coast resident was about to grab her pair of thongs on Christmas Eve when she spotted a juvenile red-bellied black snake curled up and perfectly camouflaged among the footwear.
The Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers came out to grab the young snake, posting on their Facebook page: "Does it get any more Australian than that?"
■ Leave it alone - snakes are not likely to chase you if you let them be.
■ If you see a snake inside, get all humans and pets out of the room, shut the door, fill the gap underneath with a towel and call a professional snake catcher.
■ If you see a snake outside, call a snake catcher if it disappears into a shed or under a vehicle.
■ Remember that even small snakes can be dangerous - baby brown snakes have venom right from the egg.
■ Stick to the trails in parks and reserves.
■ Keep your yard clear of long grass and rubbish.
■ Clean up after chooks and control rodents on your property as rats and mice are food for snakes.
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