Garuda Indonesia has denied that snakes were loose on one of its planes, saying the reptiles that escaped from the cargo compartment during the flight were actually legless lizards, which resemble snakes but have eyelids.
Snakes do not have eyelids.
The Indonesian airline confirmed that three legless lizards – not snakes – escaped from the cargo compartment on a flight to Jakarta from Merauke in Papua.
Legless lizards look so much like snakes that only experts can tell them apart – but if it blinks, it’s a legless lizard. (If it winks at you, you’re very lucky.)
“The animal physically looks like a snake,” Garuda’s vice-president of corporate communications, Benny Butarbutar, conceded.
“But after an examination and checking of the documents, they are lizards and not snakes.”
The reptile was of the Lialis burtonis species, commonly called legless lizards, Butarbutar told the Jakarta Post.
Legless lizards are not venomous.
The plane was carrying a cargo of live animals in a wooden box with air holes, covered in a sack. It seems that the holes were too big and some lizards escaped. Their freedom was short-lived – cabin crew quickly caught and secured the reptiles and the incident caused no flight disruption, Butarbutar said.
Garuda has begun an investigation.
Written by Peter Needham