A woman accidentally packed a snake in her luggage after visiting her daughter in Australia and brought it all the way home to the UK.
Moira Boxall discovered the spotted python hidden in a shoe, the day after she arrived back in Scotland having caught three flights from Queensland to Glasgow, on a 40-hour, 18,000 kilometre journey.
The snake survived the trip, shedding its skin in the process, and Mrs Boxall initially thought it was a toy her family had planted as a joke.
The 72-year-old grandmother said she got the "biggest shock" of her life when she "pulled at it" and the non-venomous python moved in the slip-on shoe.
She added: "I honestly thought it was toy and my family were playing a joke on me. But then it started moving, I saw its head and its fangs were going. I got the biggest shock of my life.
"It was very frightening but I knew I had to get it out of the house as quickly as possible. I ran down the stairs with it to the garden.
"I put an empty carton of margarine over it and then a bucket and then a cardboard box which I put bricks on top of it."
Mrs Boxall, from Bridge of Allan, had been visiting her daughter Sarah Airlie, 45, son-in-law Paul, 43, and her granddaughter Emily, seven, at their home in Mackay, Queensland.
Three weeks before the end of her seven-week trip, she was woken at 5am by a crashing sound. She said a 60 centimetre snake had found its way into the room and knocked over a plant on a bedside table.
Her family hired a snake catcher but when he arrived there was no trace of the animal. The widow believes it must have slithered into her shoe and spent the next three weeks hibernating.
It was then put into her luggage for a journey home via lengthy stopovers in Brisbane and Dubai.
Mrs Boxall, a widow, added: "There had been really bad storms when I was in Australia and I was told that the snakes like to try and get inside when the weather is like that.
"I am just stunned that it made it all the way back to Scotland with me. I had an eight hour stopover in Brisbane and a nine hour stopover in Dubai so I was travelling for more than 40 hours."
An officer from the Scottish SPCA arrived at Mrs Boxall's home within an hour of her call last Thursday, the day after she arrived home, to collect the python.
Mr Airlie, her son-in-law, said: "She had woken up a few days before she left and thought she had seen a snake in her room. Somehow or other it got from Mackay to Glasgow without being detected."
He said that during her stay he had played down the fact that snakes are common central Queensland, adding: "She said she's not so keen to come back and visit, but I suspect she will."
The animal is now in quarantine at the SSPCA's rescue and re-homing centre in Edinburgh.
The Telegraph, London