By Janet Tappin Coelho
A woman is reeling from the shock of finding a 7.3ft boa constrictor curled up inside her washing machine.
Shirley Oliveira, 46, discovered the 17lb (8kg) snake buried in the appliance last Sunday after her 18 year old daughter heard a strange noise coming from the top-loader.
A video shows the moment the serpent is caught and held by the head, as it flicks its forked tongue while being removed from the machine.
The married mum of two who lives in Salvador, north east Brazil, said: “My daughter Amanda was going through the backyard of our house around 11 in the morning, when she shouted at me to come and check the machine because she thought there was something strange inside.
“When I opened the lid, I got the fright of my life because there was a snake wrapped around the drum with its head poking out.
“I was so scared because I could see the snake was huge. Its body was thick and muscular. I was terrified it might be dangerous.”
In fact, the tan patterned cold-blooded creature is normally harmless to humans.
Shirley called the fire brigade and environmental police.
Both services promised to send a rescue team the same day.
However, when neither agency turned up after several calls and many hours of waiting, neighbour Rebeca Ainsworth, 23, suggested calling a friend who is a veterinary medicine student.
Joao Paulo Ribeiro said: “I got a frantic call asking for help to remove the boa constrictor.
“I arrived about 11:30 at night and found the snake was still in the appliance. I restrained it by grabbing the head and then tried to pull it out of the machine.
“It was really wedged in and it was hard to lift out.
“It took me over 20 minutes to remove it and it was a struggle right until the end.”
The family were petrified that if the creature, which is a nocturnal animal, stayed in the washer overnight it could escape while they were asleep and hide elsewhere in the house.
Footage shot by Shirley shows how every time Joao tries to haul the creature out, the reptile digs in and slithers back into the machine.
Rebeca, who helped rescue the animal by pushing aside the machine drum to release more space around the snake’s body said: “It was a surreal experience to find a snake trapped in this way.
“I love exotic animals, so I was fascinated to help. I even wrapped it around my shoulders afterwards, but I made sure Joao held the head. My father-in-law, Noel, also helped out.”
Joao, who owns a pet snake, said: “This reptile is a common species in our region. It’s not poisonous and normally poses no real threat to humans.”
The Boa, with its distinctive markings, can grow up to 13ft long and weigh over 100lbs, is an excellent swimmer but prefers to stay on dry land, living primarily in hollow logs and abandoned mammal burrows.
The creature was freed unharmed and taken to Bahia Federal University’s Wild and Exotic Animals Clinic (AASE).
Shirley, a nurse, said: “Thank goodness Joao came at the last minute to help us.
“We used the washing machine last week Thursday and we don’t know how the snake managed to slip its way past us and into the machine in between this time.
“I was panicking because animal welfare services said they could only come on Monday.
“We wouldn’t have been able to sleep if the snake hadn’t been taken out on Sunday night.”
Environmental police apologised for the delay but said: “We had a high number of wild animal rescue requests on Sunday and with this intense demand we could only go to the residence the day after the call.”
A relieved Shirley said: “I’m just grateful everything worked out well in the end for us and the animal, which was probably just as frightened as we were.
“I didn’t have the nerve to touch the snake even though it was really beautiful to look at.
“I’m still having nightmares about finding it in the machine.”
The boa constrictor was examined by vets at AASE and found to be healthy, uninjured and a male.
The creature has been released back into the wild by Brazil’s Wild Animal Screening Centre.