A snake snuck onto a United flight from Tampa to Newark airport


According to airport officials, workers at Newark Liberty International Airport were called to capture a garter snake aboard a United Airlines flight that arrived from Tampa Monday afternoon.

Airport Wildlife Operations staff and Port Authority Police Department officers met United Flight 2038 at the gate and “removed the garter snake,” the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a statement.

The snake was later released into the wild, the Port Authority said. No one was injured and operations were not affected, it said. The plane departed Newark on time just over an hour later, according to Flightradar24 tracking service.

In a statement, United said passengers alerted the crew to the queue and the airline had “called the appropriate authorities to take care of the situation.”

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An unnamed passenger told News 12 New Jersey that business class passengers first spotted the reptile while the plane was taxiing after landing. According to the TV station, the passengers began screaming and dragging their feet.

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The common garter snake is found in every county in Florida and is not venomous or aggressive to humans, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. The snakes, which typically range in length from 18 to 26 inches, tend to avoid direct contact with humans or pets and only bite when “deliberately molested.”

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Garter snakes are also common in New Jersey, according to a state-issued brochure, “Snakes of New Jersey.”

Unlike the 2006 action film Snakes on a Plane, in which Samuel L. Jackson battled dozens of venomous snakes that took over a plane, most snakes found on planes have been one single animal that managed to slide aboard.

In February, an AirAsia flight in Malaysia had to be diverted after several passengers saw a queue while the plane was in the air, according to USA Today. A viral TikTok video from the flight appears to show the reptile in a light fixture above the passengers.

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On a 2017 commuter flight in Alaska, a flight attendant jumped into action after a boy spotted a sleeping snake left by a passenger on a previous flight, the Associated Press reported. Photos show the flight attendant grabbing the snake by the stomach and dropping it into a bag, which she stowed in an overhead compartment for the remainder of the flight.

And a year earlier, a large snake — believed to be a venomous green viper — emerged from an overhead compartment on an Aeromexico flight in Mexico, according to United Press International. A passenger’s video was posted to Twitter shows the creature hanging from the ceiling of the plane that received priority landing clearance upon arrival in Mexico City.


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