A mother awoke to blood-curdling screams after her six-year-old son was attacked in his bed by a three-metre long carpet python.
The boy, Tyler, was sleeping in the top bunk in his bedroom at his family home near Macksville, on the NSW Mid North Coast, on Friday night when the snake bit him several times on his face and hand.
Tyler's mother, Tamara, told the Guardian News she ran into the room and ripped the snake off his body.
"It was like a nightmare," the Nambucca Heads newspaper reported Tamara as saying.
"It was a terrifying scream and I didn't know what had happened - I certainly didn't think it involved a snake.
"I have no idea how it even got into the house."
When Tamara entered the bedroom she said the snake was wrapped around her son's belly.
"I tried to pull Tyler from the bed but he didn't come with me ... I had to roll him, then pull," she said.
"I saw his face and the blood and his eyes were still closed so I don't think he was fully awake.
"I tried to check him over but he wouldn't let me touch him anywhere."
Within five minutes Tamara's cousins arrived at the property and "dealt with the snake" while Tamara drove her son to Macksville District Hospital.
"Tyler doesn't remember anything - which is the best part," Tamara said.
"He was only complaining about his finger hurting. He tapped his head on the way to hospital and he asked me why he was bleeding.
"He wouldn't know that a snake had bitten him if we hadn't told him or if people hadn't been talking about it."
A family friend, Craig Baker, posted an image of Tyler's bloodied face on Facebook, with another photograph, of her cousin Brady, holding up the snake.
Brady is seen holding the snake above his head - but it is so long it drapes on the ground at his feet and is curled around his hand.
Mr Baker wrote that the python bit Tyler several times on his face and hand, before Tamara heard his screams and ran to his aid.
"Tammy ... had to pull the snake off him," Mr Baker said.
When contacted, a spokeswoman for the Mid North Coast Local Health District said a six-year-old boy was taken to Macksville District Hospital just after midnight on February 19.
The child was transferred to Coffs Harbour Hospital, and was released later that morning.
Mr Baker said Tyler was "fine" following the bite.
Attack very rare: snake experts
Two snake experts told Fairfax Media that such an attack was extremely rare.
Carpet pythons, which are not venomous, are found right along the east coast of Australia, and usually eat small animals such as possums, flying foxes or rats, they said.
"I've worked with snakes for well over a decade, and it's unheard of in my experience for a carpet python to attack a child," said Gary Pattinson, a reptile handler for the wildlife rescue organisation WIRES.
Mr Pattinson said snakes were "pretty fantastic, and can eat things much larger than themselves, but there's not a chance on this planet that that snake could have eaten that child".
Tim Faulkner, the general manager of the Australian Reptile Park, said it was possible the carpet python has miscalculated the size of the child.
"The snake wouldn't usually go for a food item that big, but it would comfortably swallow a brush-tailed possum, or something like that, which is about the same size as a small child's head," he said.
"If the snake couldn't see the rest of the body - see it with heat sensitivity and the rest - it might have miscalculated how big the little fellow was."
He said such an incident was "very, very rare".
"Places like Borneo or Indonesia have got snakes - reticulated pythons, Burmese pythons, anacondas - that could swallow someone," he said.
He considered this incident to be "a freak accident on the snake's behalf".
Mr Faulkner said a carpet python had backwards facing, curved teeth so they could hook into their prey, before constricting it.
"Basically every time the prey breathes out, the snake squeezes tighter," he said.
Both snake experts stressed that carpet pythons were not venomous and did not usually pose a risk to humans.
The snake that bit Tyler was killed on the night of the incident, according to reports.
"No one has ever been swallowed by a python in Australia. To keep it in perspective, it's far more dangerous driving your car than worrying about these pythons," Mr Faulkner said.