A car mechanic got a surprise when he discovered a python under the bonnet of a Vauxhall Vivaro that was in for its MOT.
The snake, which belongs to the nine-year-old stepson of the vehicle’s owner, had escaped a fortnight earlier when its tank was accidentally left open overnight.
It was discovered at CSN Autos in Wymondham in Norfolk on Monday where the Sunfire Royal Ball Python, measuring more than a metre long, was curled up on top of the engine.
Sophie Turner 30, said she thought the garage owner was “winding us up” when he first rang her partner Jim Catton, 32, to let him know about the car’s hidden passenger.
She said her son Ellis got the snake, named Gav after his late uncle, in May.
Her son accidentally left the tank’s door open a fortnight ago.
“That was when we had that heatwave,” she said.
“He had his bedroom window wide open, his bedroom door was shut. The snake obviously slithered out.”
She said she heard a neighbour’s son scream that evening and wondered why, and the next morning her neighbour said the boy thought he had seen a snake.
They laughed about it at the time, she said – but her partner later found that the python was missing.
She said that Ellis was “over the moon” to have Gav back, and that they were lucky that the snake was still in the car as they had been driving around in the vehicle for the last two weeks.
“Since then we’ve been out in the car – dinosaur park, Great Yarmouth shopping, fishing, everywhere – the whole time he was obviously in the bonnet,” said Ms Turner.
“Luckily we’d fed the snake. He had a mouse a few days before he’d gone and that would’ve helped with his survival.
“He went into the engine under the bonnet to keep warm. The fact he didn’t drop out… I know snakes are nocturnal and they sleep during the day, we’re lucky he didn’t come out the bonnet at the dinosaur park or anything like that.”
The basking zone for pythons ranges from 30C to 32C.
They are not venomous and use constriction to kill their wild prey.
Lotus Cars worker Mr Catton cycled to fetch Gav from the garage with a pillowcase.
Ms Turner said she “felt bad” that they had not initially believed the neighbour’s son who said he saw a snake.
“He was describing it like ‘it was over a metre long, and it had patterns on it and it was yellow and brown’,” she said.
“Me and his mum were laughing, and all along he was actually telling the truth.
“Honestly he was petrified, screaming, you’d have thought there was a murder in the street.”
Chris Newell, owner of CSN Autos, said that the mechanic who found the snake “didn’t really react at all, which made it quite funny, to be fair”.
“(The snake) was just sat on the engine, just chilling on there,” he said.
Mr Newell said he knew Mr Catton and so called him and asked him to check the snake tank, before reuniting the family with their pet.