Snake grounds plane in Sydney

A tiny exotic snake was found on a Qantas flight yesterday, leading to 370 passengers being delayed in Sydney overnight.

Mandarin rat snake

Staff found the 20cm (eight inch) Mandarin Rat Snake in the passenger cabin near the door late on Sunday before passengers were due to board the Boeing 747 bound for Tokyo from Sydney International Airport, Qantas said in a statement.

Australia’s flagship carrier said passengers were given hotel rooms overnight and left Sydney on a replacement plane on Monday morning. It said the original jet would be fumigated before returning to service in case there were other snakes on board.

The snake was taken by quarantine officials for analysis.

The Agriculture Department said the snake, a species that grows to an average 1.2 metres (4 feet), had been euthanized, “as exotic reptiles of this kind can harbor pests and diseases not present in Australia.”

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