An Australian student had the shock of her life when she discovered a highly venomous snake in her school bag – and only noticed it when it wriggled over her hand.

A photo of the snake hiding in the rucksack was shared by Snake Catchers Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan & Gold Coast on Facebook on 13 February, when they wrote: "Bit of a shock for an Ipswich school student when she went to get her lunch this morning!"

They also confirmed that the snake was a two-foot red-bellied black snake, which is highly venomous but rarely bites because of its docile nature. It is believed this is how it ended up in the bag in the first place – it was looking for a place to hide because it is so shy.

The incident took place at Augusta State School in Augustine Heights, southwest of Brisbane and a staff member stepped in to quickly zip up the bag and wait for snake handlers to deal with the reptile's removal.

Snake catcher Lana Field told about the animal. "It had every opportunity to bite the child because she's putting her hand in there in a dark space but it would have been more interested in hiding," she said. "Nobody has ever died from a red-bellied black bite."

Call-outs for red-bellied black snakes in the Ipswich area are common, she added, and they are usually attracted to areas with rock-retaining walls or where there is some water. The school has both features.

It is believed the school sent a precautionary email advising that there was a snake on school grounds.

Facebook commenters noticed the irony that the snake was found in a Gryffindor school bag. The reptile is the mascot of the Slytherin house, famously rivals of Gryffindor, at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter universe.

Days earlier, a farmer was bitten by a highly venomous two-metre-long brown snake after accidentally running over it on his motorbike while herding cattle. He had to wrestle the snake off his calf before being given life-saving treatment and airlifted to hospital in a helicopter.