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SYDNEY: As if sharks were not already enough to worry about, an Australian surfer has been seen paddling out with a python coiled around his neck.

The intrepid surfer caused a stir on Australia’s Gold Coast after footage emerged of him carving through the azure waves while carrying his pet carpet python.

But authorities said he did not possess a permit to have the reptile in public, and fined the man 2,322 Australian dollars ($1,500).

“To take an animal out in public or display it requires a separate permit,“ Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science said Monday in a statement.

“Snakes are obviously cold-blooded animals, and while they can swim, reptiles generally avoid water.

“The python would have found the water to be extremely cold, and the only snakes that should be in the ocean are sea snakes.”

Carpet pythons are non-venomous snakes that can grow up to three metres (about 10 feet) long, and wrap around their prey and squeeze it until it suffocates.

They mostly eat birds, lizards and other small mammals. - AFP