A family dog was killed after a python entered a farmhouse in South Africa and swallowed the pet whole.

Sixty-year-old Nelia Scheepers said she woke up to find Goofy the dog being held by the 10-foot constrictor snake in the bedroom of her home outside the settlement of Louis Trichardt, 300 miles north of Johannesburg.

She immediately left the room with her other pets but, with the snake already tightly coiled around the dog, she realised it was too late to save it. On her return, she saw the python unlock its jaws and swallow the dog.

Scheepers, who lives alone on the premises, was looking after the 10-year-old dog for her daughter when the incident happened.

"Goofy had very good hearing and would normally be the first to start barking at the sound of any trouble. She was sleeping on my bed and didn't make a sound so I think the snake must have moved quietly through the house and then taken Goofy as she slept," she said.

"It was just so distressing to watch that snake coiling round and round, the poor dog was absolutely terrified and I could do nothing for her. It was terrible."

Pythons rarely enter houses which indicates that the snake was probably very hungry when it struck, said one expert.

"That snake won't have to eat for another three weeks now," the expert told MailOnline.

"It is unusual for pythons to go anywhere near human dwellings but it was obviously very hungry. Summer temperatures are also very high and its normal food sources are harder to catch. It may have been looking for shade."

The African rock python is the largest snake in Africa. It often grows to 20ft (6 metres) long. It kills its prey through constriction but very rarely attacks humans.

In 2013, two young boys, Connor and Noah Barthe, were killed by an escaped python in New Brunswick, Canada. Its owner was prosecuted for criminal negligence.

Southern rock python
A southern African python (Python natalensis) in its native habitat Graham J Alexander, University of the Witwatersrand