For many, the prospect of an escaped pet snake is enough to send shivers up their spine.
But for Marcus Cosentino, pet carpet pythons could be just what are needed to help repopulate areas where the snakes are in decline.
The Edith Cowan University masters student is using pet south-west carpet pythons, which are listed as specially protected fauna in WA but are plentiful in the pet trade, to study whether animals raised in captivity can be successfully released in the wild.
"As far as I've been able to find, no one's ever checked to see whether a captive-bred animal from the pet trade could be used for a reintroduction," Mr Cosentino said.
He said buying a snake for $500 or more would be cheaper than paying a zoo for four years to breed a colony of carpet pythons.
Mr Cosentino's research involves putting pet snakes through their paces in experiments to determine whether they can recognise prey, avoid predators and keep their body condition when food and water are scarce.
"People always have the idea they're scary, nasty, no matter what, but I can go to any of these snakes and, as long as I'm behaving right around the snake, I'm fine," Mr Cosentino said."Even in the wild, as long as you're not disturbing the snake it won't really care."
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