A petrified mother had the fright of her life on Thursday when she spotted a snake in the car as she and her family were driving home from holidays along the Hume Motorway in the Southern Highlands.
Her husband was behind the wheel and their two girls, aged nine and seven, were in the back seat when she became aware of the snake next to her feet on the front passenger side, according to an account of the incident posted on Native Wildlife Rescue's Facebook page.
In the frantic seconds that followed, the quick-thinking dad steered across a lane of heavy traffic and pulled over in the breakdown lane, where the family of four couldn't get out of the car fast enough.
The slithery stowaway, which was later identified as a venomous juvenile tiger snake, is believed to have hitched a ride inside a cow skull the girls found in a paddock during their trip and decided to bring home.
"On a closer inspection of the skull, it was seen the brain cavity provided a suitable and secure refuge for the snake and was most probable reason of how the snake came to be in the car," the Native Wildlife Rescue post read.
With everyone safely out of the car, the father called the police for help.
Southern Highlands highway patrol arrived shortly after with a snake handler, however the snake refused to cooperate, appearing briefly before darting under the dashboard.
"The removal of a snake from the interior of a motor vehicle is one of the snake rescuer's worst nightmares as there are so many places for it to hide," the Native Wildlife Rescue post read.
The handler drove the car from the Hume Motorway to a Mittagong shopping centre, where he could perform the rescue operation in a quieter and safer environment.
After almost five-and-a-half hours the snake finally reappeared, was caught and contained.
Despite the snake eviction, the mother said she completed her journey with her feet safely on top of the dashboard.