(DARWIN, Australia) — Australian officials shut down a day-care center in the Northern Territory Thursday because of an infestation of at least 23 baby pythons and their much larger mother.
It all started Wednesday, when a single hatchling Australian carpet python was spotted at the Mitchell Street Childcare Center in Darwin. The following day, seven more little snakes were seen slithering around the community center, which cares for children 6 weeks to five years old.
Director Louise DeBomford called the city of Darwin and two contractors were sent to investigate the issue. They peeked inside the center’s walls and discovered something shocking.
“They found the nest and mum,” DeBomford said.
Their 10-foot-long mom, to be specific. The wall contained a total of 41 broken eggshells, suggesting there were still nearly 20 foot-long serpents unaccounted for.
“I thought there would have to be more than one because we had an inundation of snakes last year, about the same time,” DeBomford told Northern Territory News.
The non-venomous carpet python is relatively common in much of Australia and New Guinea. It can grow as large as 13 feet and, like all pythons, kills its prey by coiling around and suffocating or crushing it.
It is possible for a snake as large as the one found at Mitchell Street Childcare Center to harm a young child. In one example from 2009, a family’s 8-foot pet Burmese python escaped its cage and killed a 2-year-old girl as she lay in her bed.
Coincidentally, this is not the only snake surprise kids witnessed in Australia this week. Outside Townsville, Queensland, a 3-year-old boy and his mother were shocked Monday to find some eggs the boy had collected and placed in his closet weeks ago hatched into seven highly venomous Eastern brown snakes.
No one was hurt in either case.
In Darwin, the kids at the day care seemed downright entertained as officials removed the family of snakes, presumably to somewhere a little more suitable for everyone involved.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jessica Ivins, KSL.com
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Lorenzo D'Agostino and Hilary Clarke, CNN
Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN