The snake was later released into the wild, the Port Authority said. No one was injured and operations were not affected, it added. The aircraft departed Newark on time a little over an hour later, according to tracking service Flightradar24.
In a statement, United said passengers alerted crew to the snake, and the airline “called the appropriate authorities to take care of the situation.”
An unnamed passenger told News 12 New Jersey that business-class passengers first spotted the reptile while the plane was taxiing after landing. Passengers started shrieking and pulling up their feet, according to the TV station.
The common garter snake is found in every Florida county and is not venomous or aggressive toward humans, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. The snakes, which are typically between 18 and 26 inches long, will tend to avoid direct contact with humans or pets and only bite if “intentionally molested.”
Garter snakes are also common in New Jersey, according to a “Snakes of New Jersey” pamphlet published by the state.
Unlike the 2006 action film “Snakes on a Plane” that saw Samuel L. Jackson fighting dozens of venomous snakes that take over a jetliner, most cases of snakes being discovered on planes have involved a single animal that managed to slither on board.
In February, an AirAsia flight in Malaysia had to be diverted after several passengers saw a snake while the plane was in the air, according to USA Today. A viral TikTok video from the flight appears to show the reptile inside a light fixture above passengers.
On a 2017 commuter flight in Alaska, a flight attendant jumped into action after a boy discovered a sleeping snake left behind by a passenger on an earlier flight, the Associated Press reported. Photos show the flight attendant grabbing the snake by the belly and dropping it into a bag, which she placed into an overhead bin for the rest of the flight.
And a year earlier, a large snake — believed to be a venomous green viper — emerged from an overhead compartment on an Aeromexico flight in Mexico, according to United Press International. A passenger’s video posted on Twitter shows the creature hanging from the ceiling of the plane, which received priority landing clearance when it reached Mexico City.