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Transportation Security Administration officers intercepted a Royal Python hidden in a checked bag bound for Barbados at Miami International Airport (MIA) on Monday.

A woman in her early 30s concealed the snake by wrapping it in a sack and then placing it inside an external hard drive and packing it in a suitcase that she checked at the airport. The TSA called bomb experts to inspect the bag when they discovered a large mass inside. The officers investigated inside the hard drive, and, fortunately, found the live snake before it was loaded on to the plane.

The TSA said this interception prevented a possible wildlife threat on the aircraft — many different types of animals have been known to escape and chew through wires, sometimes leading to fatal results.

Venomous and constricting snakes are not allowed on planes. However, if you’re the owner of a pet snake, you’ll have to check with the airline you’re flying to see if your pet will be allowed to fly in the cabin or if it has to go in the cargo hold.

Even if your airline does allow your (non-venomous or constricting) pet snake to fly, it has to be able to be safely screened at a TSA checkpoint in order to fly. This means that you have to carry it with you through the metal detector, and send its cage or container through the x-ray belt. However, it’s not surprising that pet snakes sometimes squirm out of their owner’s arms and slither away, which can create all sorts of problems in the airport. “We certainly don’t want a snake to get loose in an airport and never be found,” said Sari Koshetz, a TSA Spokeswoman.

US Fish and Wildlife Services officials took possession of the snake, and the passenger — who didn’t go to Barbados, either — will receive a fine.

Featured image courtesy of the TSA.

H/T: Miami Herald

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