Animals on the Plane: 10 Bizarre Incidents Involving Animals on Flights

Commercial flights are bad enough when you have to deal with dozens to hundreds of people crammed in a metal tube. When people talk of a bad flight, it is mostly because of bad weather, sitting next to a noisy neighbor, or having to deal with screaming children on board. Add a barking dog or a snake to the problems people face in a typical cabin and you got yourself a mayhem in the skies.
In the US, most animal-related disturbances on flights are caused by poorly trained or untamed support animals which are allowed on flights by law. Unwelcome animals including deadly snakes still manage to get themselves onto airplanes and the resulting chaos is hard to escape. Here is a look at shocking as well as interesting incidents involving animals on flights.

  • A snake on AirAsia 

The story made rounds on the internet as AirAsia passengers and a pilot shared the video on social media tagging Samuel L. Jackson and #Snakesontheplane. The snake was recorded slithering through the overhead luggage compartment. It was a slender green snake that seemed trapped in the compartment and therefore didn’t find its way into the cabin. 

The flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Malaysian city of Tawau was forced to make an emergency landing in the city of Kuching in Borneo, over 500 miles from its destination. Since the snake could not be easily retrieved, the passengers were put on another flight as their plane was left to the animal handlers to locate the snake. The snake is believed to have entered the plane before take-off.

  • A cobra on EgyptAir 

The EgyptAir flight from Cairo to Kuwait had 90 legal passengers on board and an illegal one 91st who was an unwelcome Egyptian cobra hidden inside one traveler’s carry-on bag. The passenger who ran a pet shop in Kuwait was trying to smuggle the serpent when it sneaked out of his bag. The angry cobra bit the man as he tried to get it under control and then sneaked under the seats causing total panic on the flight. 

The pilot who was flying over the Red Sea was forced to seek an emergency landing in the resort town of Al Ghardaqa. Luckily, no more passengers were bitten as the plane landed and everyone disembarked to allow emergency crew and animal handlers to take control of the serpent. Hopefully, they enjoyed the beautiful sand beaches of the stretch of Al Ghardaqa as the plane was rid of the snake before their flight to Kuwait resumed. 

  • A snake on a Ravn Alaska

Alaska is a vast state where commuting is just a lot easier by air and that is where Ravn Alaska saves the days. On one flight from the village of Aniak to Anchorage in 2017, a loose pet snake caused a scare. The snake had escaped from its owner on a previous flight. The pilots and attendants failed to locate it in time before the passengers to Anchorage boarded the plane. 

The pilot warned the passengers that there was a loose snake on the plane, but there was no commotion as they were reassured that it wouldn’t bite. A brave flight attendant finally managed to secure the snake which was found lying near a little boy. She was able to put it into a trash bag without any harm coming to her or the passengers.

  • The woman and the pig on US Airways

It happened on a Thanksgiving morning US Airways flight from Connecticut to Washington. The woman carrying the pig wasn’t identified by name but images of her carrying a huge pig made rounds online. She boarded a little late after most passengers were seated and caused a protest from fellow passengers when her nearly 100lb pig caused the whole cabin to start stinking. The pig also defecated in the aisle and squealed so loudly that the crew kicked both the animal and her owner off the flight

The law is not clear on what species or size of animal can be allowed on board as an emotional support animal so it is up to the airlines to set those rules. The rules limit the weight and size of animals allowed on board and most importantly, insist on the animal being trained. The pig in this case was neither trained nor secured which would explain the problems it brought to the cabin.

  • The dog that forced a US Airways flight to make an emergency landing

A support animal out of control is nothing compared to dog poop smelling in the cabin so bad that passengers start getting sick. It happened on US Airways flight 598 from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. A dog that the crew only described as a “big dog” defecated in the cabin three times. 

The crew ran out of paper towels to clean up the excrement after the dog defecated the second time, so when it did a third time, the passengers had to deal with the smell. Passengers started getting sick because of the smell forcing the pilot to divert the plane to Kansas City and make an emergency landing. The flight took off an hour later after a cleaning crew had been deployed on the plane and the crew restocked on towels.

  • The Labrador that mauled a passenger on Delta Airlines

The passenger took both the owner of the dog and the airline to court in a case that caused sweeping changes to how Delta Airlines handles support animals. The dog which was apparently well trained and fully documented was the service animal for a US marine officer on the same flight. 

The passenger, Marlin Jackson, was supposed to sit next to the dog owner on the flight from Atlanta to San Diego. Having received the window seat, he walked past the dog and its owner, and for some reason, the dog started growling before attacking him. It pinned him onto the window of the plane and bit him in the face. The attack was apparently so severe that the airline had to remove the entire row of seats because of the bleeding. He ended up needing 28 stitches to his face.

  • The snake on Aeromexico

This is the closest a real-life flight came to Samuel L. Jackson’s film Snakes on The Plane as a serpent was recorded slithering inside the cabin. It is not clear how the green snake ended up inside the cabin of the flight from Torreon to Mexico City but there is a good chance it was a stray from the airport. The snake was recorded slithering from the back of the cabin between the plane’s body and the overhead luggage compartment.

 The snake then lost its grip and dropped onto one of the seats in the back, which was, luckily enough, unoccupied. The snake emerged when the plane had already reached Mexico City, so all the pilot had to do was request a priority landing and get the passengers off as quickly as possible before the snake found its way to the front part of the plane. No one was harmed on the flight either, but it was a real close shave for most of the passengers.

  • A stray cat in a Tarco Aviation cockpit

Tarco Aviation offers chattered flights mostly around Europe, Asia, and Africa, taking passengers to places where commercial flights are not readily available. The airline was making one such trip from Khartoum, Sudan to Doha, Qatar when a cat suddenly appeared in the cockpit. 

The aggressive feline started attacking the pilot and the crew in the cockpit creating a catastrophic situation that forced the flight to divert back to Khartoum just 30 minutes after departure. The stowaway is believed to have entered the plane the night before the flight but it is not clear how it found its way into the cockpit. 

  • Excessively farty sheep on Singapore Airlines

Animals in the cargo hauls are not any more comfortable when crammed together than humans are in the cabin. Grazers give out lots of methane when grazing in the fields, and that can result in lots of heat when they are doing their business in a metal tube. That is what happened on a Singapore Airlines flight from Sidney to Kuala Lumpur. 

The pilots thought the plane was on fire because of the heat signal causing them to request for an emergency landing in Denpasar, Bali. The fire crew was surprised to find the farty ruminants comfortable in the cargo haul and no fire on the plane. They later told the pilots to advise farmers on changing the animals’ diet before they board planes.

  • Snake in the shoe

Moira Boxall wasn’t planning on smuggling a spotted python from Australia to Scotland when she took her flight in 2019 after her holiday. The flight from Queensland to Edinburgh is more than 9,000 miles long making it one of the longest flights in the world and the last thing you want on such a flight is a snake tucked in your hand luggage. 

The passenger in this case didn’t open her suitcase until after the plane landed in Scotland though which was a huge relief. They found the small python curled up in her shoe and even started shedding its skin after over 24 hours of traveling. The snake wasn’t poisonous and all she had to do was get animal rescue to get it a new home in Edinburgh.

4 Fun Facts About Foxes: From Domestication to Incredible Journeys

Foxes, with their sharp wits and captivating charm, have intrigued humans for centuries. These adaptable and intelligent creatures exhibit a range of behaviors and abilities that reflect their complex nature and the diverse environments they inhabit.

Yawning fox
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From the scientific endeavors to domesticate them to their astonishing physical capabilities, here are four fun facts that highlight the remarkable aspects of foxes.

1. The Domesticated Silver Foxes of Russia: In a groundbreaking experiment starting in the 1950s, the USSR embarked on a journey to domesticate foxes, aiming to understand the domestication of wolves. This led to the creation of the Silver Fox breed, which, after 40 generations of selective breeding, showcased not only a friendly disposition towards humans but also physical and behavioral traits distinct from their wild counterparts. These domesticated foxes developed shorter tails, floppier ears, and changes in their skeletal structure, making them appear more dog-like and endearing.

2. The Incredible Hunting Acumen of Foxes: Foxes possess an extraordinary ability to leap 3 feet in the air and dive into snow to catch mice with incredible accuracy. They calculate the speed and trajectory of their prey, executing a nose dive with pinpoint precision. This hunting technique showcases their acute sensory abilities and physical agility, making them formidable predators in their natural habitats.

3. Ancient Fox Domestication in the Iberian Peninsula: Archaeological evidence from the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula reveals that foxes, alongside dogs, were domesticated by humans in the Bronze Age, around the third to second millennium BC. These ancient foxes shared a similar diet with their human companions, indicating a close relationship between the two species during this period. This fact sheds light on the long-standing bond between humans and foxes, predating many known instances of animal domestication.

4. A Young Arctic Fox’s Remarkable Journey: In an astonishing feat of endurance and navigation, a young female Arctic fox traveled from Norway to Canada, covering a distance of 3,506 km (2,179 miles) in just 76 days. This journey, which included crossing vast expanses of sea ice and glaciers, set records for both the speed and distance of travel for the species. With an average daily movement rate of 46.3 km, and peaking at 155 km in a single day, this Arctic fox’s journey is among the longest dispersal events ever recorded for the species, showcasing their incredible resilience and adaptability.

10 facts about cats

Cats, those enigmatic and independent creatures that share our homes, are a source of endless fascination and mystery. From their ancient history to their quirky behaviors, there’s so much more to these feline friends than meets the eye. Here are ten interesting facts about cats that might just surprise you.

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1. Self-Domestication: Unlike most domesticated animals, cats essentially domesticated themselves. Originating from the European forest cat and Southwest Asia/North African wildcat, they were drawn to early human settlements because of the abundance of prey. Genetic studies indicate that domestic cats emerged around 4,400 BCE in the Near East and 1,500 BCE in North Africa, remaining genetically similar to their wild ancestors until the Middle Ages when selective breeding diversified their breeds.

2. Invasive Superpredators: Cats are known both as invasive species and superpredators. Their remarkable hunting skills enable them to significantly impact small fauna populations, placing them second only to humans in their predatory impact.

3. Hunting Tactics: When cats appear to be ‘playing’ with their prey, they are actually employing a strategy to exhaust them. This makes it safer for the cat to deliver a fatal bite without risking injury.

4. Unblinking Hunters: Cats don’t need to blink regularly to keep their eyes moist, giving them an advantage in hunting. However, they do squint, often as a form of affectionate communication with other cats or humans.

5. The Slow Blink: Anxious or scared cats can be soothed through a technique known as the ‘slow blink.’ It’s a non-threatening signal that can make nervous cats feel more at ease, and is widely used in animal shelters.

6. Black Cats and Sailors: Historically, sailors viewed black cats as good luck charms and would often have them aboard as ‘ship’s cats.’ Fishermen’s wives also kept black cats at home, believing they would ensure their husbands’ safe return from the sea.

7. Viking Wedding Gifts: In Viking culture, cats were valued and often given as wedding gifts due to their association with Freyja, the goddess of luck. A love for cats was seen as auspicious for a happy marriage.

8. Sacred Creatures: Several ancient religions revered cats as exalted souls and guides for humans, believed to be all-knowing but silent to avoid influencing human decisions.

9. Feline Social Awareness: Recent research has shown that cats not only recognize their own names but also the names of other cats and humans they interact with regularly.

10. Selective Listeners: A study has revealed that cats can recognize their owners’ voices but often choose to ignore them, displaying their famed independent nature.

From their origins to their complex behaviors and cultural significance, cats continue to captivate and intrigue us in countless ways.

Six Wonders of Octopus Intelligence: From Outsmarting Humans to Throwing Punches

When it comes to the vast world of marine life, the intelligence of octopuses is truly a spectacle that stands out. Beyond their inky excretions and dexterous arms, their intricate cognitive skills invite awe and curiosity. Here are seven fascinating facts that highlight the astonishing aptitude of these cephalopods:

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1. Octopuses are among the most intellectually advanced species on Earth, demonstrating abilities to solve intricate puzzles, use tools, and even plan for the future. They are such cognitive marvels that in some jurisdictions, it’s required by law to administer anesthesia before any surgical procedure is performed on them.

2. The octopus brain is a decentralized marvel. They possess nine brains in total – a smaller one in each of their eight arms, and a central brain that regulates the whole system. These arm brains can independently taste, touch and perform rudimentary movements, yet, in the face of a larger task, they collaborate seamlessly under the directive of the central brain.

3. Researchers have documented instances of octopuses punching fish. While the motivations behind this surprising behavior remain a subject of speculation, it’s hypothesized that this may be a form of punishment. This fascinating behavior showcases the capacity of the octopus’s brain for complex cognition, despite its drastically different structure compared to human brains.

4. Meet Otto, another famously crafty octopus, notorious for causing a power outage at his aquarium. Agitated by a glaring 2000-watt spotlight, Otto figured out how to shoot water at the light, leading to a short circuit. Known for his antics, he was also caught juggling his tank mates, smashing glass with thrown rocks, and persistently aiming water jets at annoying light fixtures.

5. Showcasing a Houdini-like talent, Inky the Octopus made headlines with his great escape from New Zealand’s National Aquarium. Seizing the opportunity one night, he squeezed through a tiny hole in his tank, slid across the aquarium floor, and navigated his way through a drainpipe that led directly to the ocean – a grand escape indeed.

6. While octopuses are often solitary and show antisocial tendencies toward their own kind, an interesting experiment demonstrated a significant shift in behavior. When given MDMA, a psychoactive drug, these typically asocial creatures became notably more sociable, displaying what can only be described as “hugging” behavior towards each other.

Wild Mice and the Joy of Running Wheels

Studies have discovered that when a running wheel is left in nature, wild mice will willingly use it to run, seemingly for their own pleasure.

A recent study reveals that wild mice voluntarily run on exercise wheels in their natural environment without any food reward, similar to how captive mice behave. This finding contradicts the belief that such activity is a result of captivity or an indicator of neurosis or repetitive behavior associated with confinement. Over a period of three years, the study recorded more than 200,000 visits by various free-living animal species to the exercise wheels, proving its popularity among wild creatures.