Video of the snake being buffeted by the wind as the aircraft flew over the Coral Sea northeast of Australia was taken by passenger Robert Weber, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported in an article accompanying the footage today. The reptile was lodged next to the engine in a Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) Dash-8 plane, which left the tropical Australian city of Cairns at 6.15 a.m. yesterday, Qantas spokesman Luke Enright said.
“We haven’t seen anything like this before,” he said by phone from Sydney. “It must have sought refuge on the exterior of the aircraft at Cairns airport. Most passengers were unaware of the snake as they were asleep.”
The snake appears to have been an amethystine python, a non-venomous constrictor found in the mangrove swamps surrounding Cairns airport, David Walton, a snake-catcher with Cairns Snake Removals, said by phone.
“I’ve shifted multiple snakes from the airport,” he said. “It would just need the plane to be sitting there overnight. Pythons are fantastic climbers.”
The snake was dead on arrival and was handed over to the Papua New Guinean quarantine officials after the flight landed at Port Moresby, Enright said. Once planes reach cruising altitude, the snake would die from cold and lack of oxygen, Walton said.
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