Indian python
The Indian python was found in the Grand Union Canal in Leicester Reuters

A kayaker was left stunned when he saw a huge 18ft python in the water as he paddled in the Grand Union Canal near Leicester. The killer snake was spotted by Sebastian Bishop as he enjoyed a day out on the water earlier this month near Aylestone.

Despite giving the 44-year-old quite a shock the reptile, an albino Indian python, had already died and was just floating in the murky waters. Although pythons have been known to eat and attack humans, they are not believed to be part of their usual prey so instances of attacks are rare – especially in the UK thousands of miles from their sub-tropical habitats.

The 18ft python sounds pretty long, but it dwarves in comparison to what is believed to be the largest python ever discovered. The python was captured alive on a construction site in in Penang, Malaysia. The reticulated python, reported to weigh 250kg, was measured at 8m (26.2 ft).

The lorry driver told the Mirror: "I had been in the canal all day, just messing about having fun. As I passed under a bridge on the stretch at Aylestone I saw a long slim shape just under the water.

"I went to investigate and prodded it with my paddle. I lifted part of it up and was shocked to see it was a snake. When I got out and dragged it on to the grass, it just kept coming and coming.

"I could not believe how long it was. I reckon it was about 18ft long. I have been kayaking along the canal for about three years now and it is the most unusual thing I have found. I am just glad the snake was dead, because I don't fancy wrestling with a live one in the water."

The snakes, which hail from India and Southeast Asia and usually feasts on mammals, birds and reptiles is believed to have been abandoned by a previous owner or escaped from a private reptile collection.

In February this year a six-year-old boy was saved from a python that bit him in the head after his mother heard his screams for help. Tyler Thurgood was attacked by the snake in his bedroom in Macksville, New South Wales, Australia, where the 3m-long reptile bit the boy first on the hand before going for his face.