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Snake On A Plane: Qantas Passengers Stranded

A snake on a plane has left hundreds of passengers stranded overnight in Sydney.

The eight-inch (20cm) Mandarin rat snake was discovered by staff in the doorway of a Qantas 747 jet due to leave Sydney for Tokyo.

The reptile was spotted just before passengers began boarding.

Some 370 passengers were booked on the flight but all had to spend Sunday night in Sydney hotels thanks to the slippery customer.

Australia's Agriculture Department said the snake, a species that grows to an average length of 1.2 metres (4ft), had been euthanised "as exotic reptiles of this kind can harbour pests and diseases not present in Australia".

The department said the snake had arrived aboard the jet in a flight a day earlier from Singapore.

"The Department of Agriculture is looking into how the snake came to be on the plane, but isn't able to speculate at this time," it said.

The mildly venomous Asian snake was about the width of a pencil and did not pose a threat to humans, but it had the potential to cause ecological havoc in the Australian environment if it had escaped the plane with a mate, Canberra Reptile Zoo herpetologist Peter Child said.

A replacement flight was scheduled to leave on Monday morning for the delayed travellers.

One of the stranded passengers, Noah Harris, told Australia's Channel 7 news: "We got a night in a nice hotel and we lose a day of our trip to Tokyo, but what are you going to do? It's a good story."

It is the second "snakes on a plane" drama for Qantas this year.

In January a three-metre python hitched a ride on an early morning flight from Cairns to Papua New Guinea.

The reptile was spotted trapped on the plane's wing and did not survive the journey.