A bizarre search is unfolding on the Gold Coast after a South American boa constrictor was released by police who wrongly believed it was a harmless python.
Police say officers were called to The Esplanade at Surfers Paradise on or about March 26, to respond to reports of a large snake spotted at the base of a tree on a footpath.
The officers released the reptile into bushland at the Southport Spit, but the incident has since sparked an operation by Biosecurity Queensland officers who say the snake isn't a harmless python after all.
It's been identified as a two-metre South American boa constrictor, a large predatory snake that could pose a threat to other reptiles and even domestic pets.
"These snakes could wipe out entire species of reptiles and they have been known to eat cats and dogs," Gold Coast snake catcher Tony Harrison has told The Gold Coast Bulletin.
"We have been told to capture it so the state government can euthanise it. It makes me really angry that people import these snakes as pets and release them when they get too big. They carry heaps of diseases."
Biosecurity Queensland is working with the Gold Coast City Council in a bid to find the snake.
"Police originally caught it in a sheet after spotting it under a tree in Surfers Paradise before they released it in bushland at The Spit," a spokesman said.
"They say they captured the snake when it started moving towards people."