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An “unfortunate” 16ft albino reticulated python was rescued by an animal shelter in Austin, Texas on Monday – after being missing for months.

The Austin Animal Center wrote on its verified Facebook page that they received a call about the huge reptile on Monday.

“Due to the temperatures, the snake was lethargic enough that a few residents were able to catch it and keep it in their garage,” wrote the municipal shelter, operated by the city of Austin.

And while callers often exaggerate the size of snakes when calling the shelter, in this case the python was just as big as the callers thought.

Residents said they had seen the huge snake in the neighborhood since July, according to the Facebook post. The shelter placed the snake in temporary housing for the night, then asked the Austin Zoo to provide “more suitable” housing for the time being.

Meanwhile, shelter staff members recalled a social media post they had seen months before about a missing python. Some research led them to a post on the Nextdoor community app, which included information about the owner of the python.

Shelter staff contacted the owner, who identified the snake based on a “unique characteristic”.

And they discovered the snake’s owner – a woman named Snow – was visiting Austin from Dallas when a thief broke into her car, stealing a tote bag with Snow inside. It’s unclear when the thief let the snake free to roam Austin.

Now the snake and owner have been happily reunited, according to the Facebook post.

Reticulated pythons are one of the longest snake species in the world, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They can exceed 20 feet at their longest. In the wild, snakes are found in South and Southeast Asia, although they are bought and sold as pets around the world.

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A 16ft reticulated python was rescued in Austin, Texas after being missing for months

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