NEWARK - It appears that someone left their pet snake at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Newark Liberty International Airport last night.
The 15-inch ring-necked snake, a thin black snake with a bright yellow band around the back of its neck, was spotted on the floor of the checkpoint in Terminal C by a youngster who heeded the advice, “If you see something, say something” when she spotted it and notified a TSA officer.
The TSA officer placed a gray checkpoint bin over the snake to contain it and prevent it from slithering away. The checkpoint lane was closed temporarily and passengers shifted to another lane to clear the area. Port Authority Police were notified and secured the snake before taking it away, allowing TSA to repopulate the checkpoint lane a short time later.
The snake immediately brought to mind the 2006 action/thriller “Snakes on a Plane,” in which an assassin released deadly snakes on the plane, frightening passengers and crew. However ring-necked snakes are considered harmless.
“It’s common for travelers to accidentally leave items at the checkpoint,” said TSA’s New Jersey Federal Security Director Tom Carter. “Typically people leave items such as their keys, sunglasses, ID, hats and gloves, but this is the first time someone has left a snake behind. We have a fairly robust lost and found program that reunites passengers with their lost items, but this passenger doesn’t need to call us about his snake.”
TSA screens a variety of pets that travelers bring to checkpoints, but it is up to the airline as to whether it will allow those pets—snakes or otherwise—on their aircraft.