Schoolgirl finds snake, not lunch in backpack

An Australian schoolgirl received a terrifying shock when she tried to find lunch in her Harry Potter Gryffindor backpack: a red-bellied black snake sliding across her hand.

The student at Augusta State School in a suburb of Brisbane alerted her teacher, who zipped up the backpack’s front pocket before calling a professional snake catcher on Tuesday.

Snakecatchers Brisbane staffer Lana Field said Wednesday the sub-adult snake was about 60 centimetres long.

“Nobody has died from a red-bellied black snake bite in Australia, but their venom can lead to serious sickness,” she told the Australian Associated Press.

“Red-bellied black snakes love hiding in dark holes,” Field said, adding it was probably attracted to the dark colour of the young girl’s Harry Potter Gryffindor backpack.

Few others on social media saw an opportunity to invoke a pop culture reference – with the serpent being the emblem for Slytherin – from the popular Harry Potter book and movie series.

“Bloody Slytherins, get out of the Gryffindor common room,” Isobel Roe said on the Brisbane Snakecatcher’s Facebook page.

“We do get calls about snakes from school but they are usually in classrooms, not inside backpacks,” Erin McNamara from Snake Catchers Brisbnae told dpa.

“We have been getting 10-20 calls every day.”

The red-bellied black is a venomous snake found in eastern Australia.

They can be as long as 2 meters and while its bite is not fatal, they can cause significant illness, including muscle and nerve damage.

They have been responsible for 16 per cent of snakebite victims, according to the Australian Snakebite Project.

NAN