Prisoners and guards in Sydney's west have been working with one of the slipperiest inmates to be locked up – a two-metre jungle python with an ice addition.
The cold-blooded methamphetamine addict has been incarcerated in the care of inmates and guards at a prison facility for animals that find themselves on the wrong side of the law in Sydney's west.
The python was seized in a raid on a drug lab where it had developed its habit after absorbing fumes and particles in the air as the drug ice was being manufactured, the Daily Telegraph reports.
"He was totally on edge, jittery, slithering and wanting to strike," said Ian Mitchell, a senior manager at the Corrective Services NSW Wildlife Care Centre in Windsor.
The exposure to drugs turned the usually somewhat sedate python into a snapping and snarling serpent – one of the worst to ever enter the centre.
"Normally these pythons can be a little bit snappy, they are constrictors and not poisonous, and they just lie around," he said, but this one was "very aggressive and had very erratic behaviour".
After seven months in rehab, the python seems to have licked its habit and is ready to re-enter society as soon as a home with certified reptile keepers is found through a ballot.
The wildlife correctional centre at the John Maroney prison in Windsor has dealt with 40 snakes in the past year, the newspaper reports, along with dozens of other native animals including kangaroos, possums, birds and other reptiles.
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Mr Mitchell said snakes and other reptiles were favoured by criminal gang members and bikies as they were the perfect guard for stashing drugs and weapons as they work "as a deterrent" that stopped people accessing the animals' enclosures.
The python was taken care of by 14 minimum-security prisoners, among others, who work with the captured wildlife brought into the centre.
Minas Kassiotis, one of the prisoners in the centre, said the work "makes me proud to know that I am repaying my debt to society by doing something to sustain our wildlife".
Prison governor Ivan Calder said the work also provided a calming environment that helps to reduce recidivism and "allows gradual reintroduction to community contact as well as the reinforcement of the care and consideration of others, not just one's self".