SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian infant was attacked by a python which wrapped itself around his body and attempted to suffocate him, his terrified mother said Thursday, recalling his “blood-curdling scream”.

The two-year-old boy was chasing a ball around his Port Douglas backyard in Australia’s tropical north when the snake struck, biting his leg before looping itself around his body, his mother told the local Cairns Post newspaper. “I heard this blood-curdling scream,” she said.

“The snake was biting his leg and was wrapped around his whole body, to his chest. It started constricting.”

She was unable to pull the snake from her son but neighbours who heard her distressed cries came to his rescue and managed to lift the snake off.

The boy suffered four bite wounds but the snake was not poisonous and he was released from hospital after 24 hours’ observation. Pythons can grow to several metres in length and are usually active in the tropics between October and April, but local veterinarian Rod Gilbert told the paper it was the first time he had heard of one trying to eat a child.

“I suppose a two-year-old boy is not much different from a wallaby, it could definitely happen,” Gilbert said, referring to the native marsupials that are a more typical part of a python’s diet.