If you thought Snakes on a Plane was just a silly action movie, think again. An actual snake on a plane recently made it all the way from Australia to Scotland by concealing itself in an unwitting woman’s shoe.
Unpacking her suitcase, Moira Boxall was so shocked to find a snake in her boot – OK, plimsoll – that at first, she thought it was a fake snake placed there as a hoax. On closer inspection, she realized the critter was very much alive and, well, accompanied by a skin that it had shed on the journey. You need something to pass the time on the 15,000-kilometer (9,300-mile) flight from Queensland to Glasgow, after all.
Moira reported the scaly stowaway to the Scottish SPCA, an animal welfare charity, who came to the snake’s rescue.
“I responded to a call from a woman who had just returned from a holiday in Australia who had found a small snake inside her shoe in her suitcase,” Taylor Johnstone, Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer, said in an email sent to IFLScience. “When I arrived, the snake had been contained by the caller, so I safely removed the snake from the property."
Fortunately, the snake posed no threat as it was a non-venomous spotted python, a species often kept as pets. The well-traveled reptile is now safe and being looked after at the Scottish SPCA’s animal rescue and rehoming center in Edinburgh, where it is currently being quarantined.
Bizarrely, snakes on planes aren’t as rare as you might think. And when species end up in places they shouldn’t be, they can wreak havoc on the local environment. The island of Guam, in the Western Pacific, is one such place – it's been completely overrun by snakes that slithered aboard military planes in the 1940s and ‘50s.
Unfortunately, Guam’s native critters had not adapted to sharing their island with the relatively large and venomous brown tree snake, and many fell victim to the invaders. In fact, 10 out of 12 of Guam’s native forest birds were literally eaten to extinction. And if an island void of birdsong but full of snakes wasn’t unappealing enough, the lack of birds has led to a huge surge in spiders.
So, while the story of the little python who wanted to see the world didn’t end too badly, if you’re ever traveling home from snake country, be sure to check your shoes.