python
The three metre python was coiled around the two-year-old and bit her three times. (Wiki Commons)

A two-year-old from New South Wales, Australia, almost became a 10ft python's dinner but for the quick action of her mother.

Tess Guthrie, 22, was asleep in bed with her daughter Zara at their home in Lismore when she woke at around 3.30am to hear her cat hissing.

She then realised that a three-metre snake was coiled around her young daughter.

"I thought it was a dream when I saw the python wrapped around Zara and I didn't think it was real," she told 9News.com.

"I just grabbed the head of the snake and tried to pry the animal away."

Guthrie said that when she went to remove the snake, it started to constrict around Zara's arm and bit the toddler three times.

"On the third time [it was biting her] I grabbed the snake by the head. I pulled her and the snake apart from each other," she said.

"In my head I was just going through this unbelievable terror, and my thought was that it was going to actually kill her at first, because it was wrapped so tight."

Recovering well 

Zara was taken to hospital and treated for bites.

The snake was removed by a snake removal company. He said: "That snake, if it was bigger, could have crushed the baby. It could have tried to eat the baby, yes.

"And when mum went to save [the child] it could have wrapped her hands like the best police manacles around and then thrown a loop around her neck and killed her. It's all in self-defence."

However, Tillis also said the python had curled up with the toddler for warmth, rather than for a meal.

He explained that pythons have a row of sensors that allow them to see the world in infrared, so the mother and baby would have looked like a "lump of heat" ideal for warmth.

It is thought the python, which was aged between five and 10, had been in the house for two days before it was discovered.

Guthrie insisted that the animal not be destroyed and it was released back into the wild three miles from the house.