A potentially dangerous snake was a surprise guest when Santa Claus visited children in Australia's remote Outback this week, biting two of their teachers as the youngsters received gifts.
One teacher, who had travelled some 300 kilometres (185 miles) with a class of Aboriginal children to meet the train carrying Santa at a South Australian desert stop on Friday, was flown to hospital after being bitten on the foot.
A fellow teacher was then bitten on the finger as he caught the snake, thought to be a poisonous yellow-faced whip snake, for identification purposes. He declined treatment and later released it back into the wild.
Andy Kilcross, a general practitioner with the flying doctor service who was travelling on the Perth-bound train treated the first teacher at the scene and said she had been taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.
"You can't tell just from looking at the snake what type it is, so they need to run some tests," he told Australian news agency AAP.
The incident happened on the third day of the Indian Pacific's annual Christmas journey on the 4,352 kilometre route from Sydney to Perth -- a special trip designed to raise awareness about the flying doctors service which tends to those living in remote and isolated parts of the country.