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Mandarin rat snake delays hundreds of Qantas pax

September 24, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Hundreds of Qantas passengers were forced to spend the night in hotels after a small Mandarin rat snake was found aboard their aircraft at Sydney Airport on Sunday night.

The snake measured just 20 centimetres and was no wider than a ball-point pen, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Qantas said a cabin crew member found the snake before the plane took off for Tokyo.

The 370 passengers were disembarked and spent Sunday night in hotels before the plane took off Mandarin rat snakeyesterday morning.

In January, another snake hitch-hiked on a Qantas flight from Cairns to Papua New Guinea, drawing attention around the world on social media, newspapers and on television. In that incident, a twin-engined Bombardier Dash-8 turboprop was about 20 minutes into its early morning flight from Cairns to Port Moresby when a woman passenger told cabin crew that a snake was clinging to the wing.

It turned out to be a scrub python, reportedly the longest type of snake in Australia, and it must have slithered onto the plane in Cairns. It didn’t survive the 90-minute flight between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The more recent snake at Sydney Airport was a Mandarin rat snake (see example in picture) native to Asia. Wikipedia notes that it is “a secretive species, often using rodent burrows for shelter”. It feeds primarily on small rodents and prefers cooler temperatures.

Newspapers made the inevitable comparison with Snakes on a Plane, the 2006 horror-action-thriller film starring Samuel L. Jackson. But the movie had 450 aggressive snakes in it. This was just one snake, and it was well behaved.

Written by : Peter Needham

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