TSA finds 4-foot ‘emotional support’ boa constrictor in woman’s carry-on at Tampa airport

A Transportation Security Administration officer found an “emotional support” snake in a woman’s luggage at a Tampa International Airport security checkpoint, according to a Friday tweet from a TSA spokesperson.

On Dec. 15, Bartholomew, a 4-foot boa constrictor, was spotted in an image from the security checkpoint X-ray (seen in orange in the top right corner) before the bag could slither onto the flight.

The snake’s owner told officers her coiled travel mate was her emotional support pet, according to the tweet.

“Our officers at Tampa International Airport didn’t find this hyssssssterical,” the TSA wrote in a punny Instagram post. “Coiled up in a passenger’s carry-on was a 4′ boa constrictor! We really have no adder-ation for discovering any pet going through an x-ray machine.”

The security checkpoint officers contacted the woman’s airline, which said the snake was not allowed onto the plane, TSA spokesperson Jessica Mayle said.

Major U.S. airlines allow passengers to bring common pets such as smaller dogs and cats onto the plane as long as they make a prior reservation, according to policies on airline websites. Each airline has its own rules, but the furry passengers are required to be in a carrier. Most airlines charge a fee to bring a pet onboard and the carrier counts as a carry-on item.

Some airlines — such as Frontier — also allow certain birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters. None of the airlines allow snakes as pets in carry-ons.

Tampa airport spokesperson Emily Nipps said while the TSA — not the airport — maintains records about stopped and confiscated checkpoint items, she could not immediately think of any other odd or unusual animals that were brought onto a plane in Tampa in the nearly 10 years she’s worked at the airport.

During the 2022 holiday season, the TSA said it found a cat inside a piece of checked luggage in New York City and a dog sent through the X-ray machine in Madison, Wisconsin, according to a news release sent Dec. 14 — one day before the snake was found in Tampa.

The news release states the traveler should take their pet out of the carrier before sending the crate through the X-ray. The person should then carry their pet through the medical detector or body scanner before putting it back into the carrier.