Can You Bring Snakes On A Plane?

Remarkably, there are over 3,000 species of snakes in the world, ranging from the majestic and harmless to the dangerously venomous. The intrigue and fear surrounding these reptiles have permeated cultures and media around the globe, with a particular cinematic example being the famous thriller titled “Snakes on a Plane.” However, when it comes to reality, the regulation and transportation of live snakes are governed by a complex web of airline policies and international protocols.

The etiquette of flying with snakes dates back to the early days of commercial air travel when the transportation of exotic animals was primarily for zoological and scientific purposes. Over time, the situation evolved as pet ownership expanded to include a wider variety of species, snakes included. Today, the possibility of bringing a snake onto a commercial flight as a passenger’s pet is subject to strict airline regulations, as well as safety and welfare considerations for both the animal and fellow passengers.

Airlines that do allow snakes to be transported typically require them to be secured in suitable containers and stored in the cargo hold, where the environment can be carefully controlled. Additionally, international travel with snakes mandates adherence to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), ensuring that the trade of wild animals does not threaten their survival. With public safety and animal welfare as top priorities, airlines and governments work together to create protocols that protect all parties involved in the transit session of these serpentine companions.

can you bring snakes on a plane

Can You Take Snakes On A Plane?

When considering whether you can take snakes on a plane, it’s important to understand that airline policies and regulations can vary significantly. Generally, most commercial airlines have strict rules about transporting live animals, especially snakes, due to safety concerns and the comfort of other passengers. Some airlines may allow snakes to travel in the cargo hold, provided they are in a secure and appropriate container, while others may forbid them entirely. Additionally, international and state laws regarding the transport of exotic animals must be adhered to, which can include permits and health certificates. It’s crucial to check with the specific airline and comply with all legal requirements before attempting to travel with a snake. In the next section, we will delve deeper into the guidelines, necessary preparations, and tips for traveling with snakes on a plane.

Traveling with Snakes on USA Domestic Flights: General Guidelines

Traveling with snakes or any live animals on domestic flights in the USA is subject to strict regulations to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers, including the animals. Each airline has its policies, but there are some general guidelines you should follow when considering taking a snake on a plane.

Airline Pet Policies

  • Advance Notification: Most airlines require passengers to notify them in advance if they plan to travel with a pet.
  • Carrier Requirements: Snakes must be transported in secure, escape-proof carriers that meet the airline’s size and construction standards.
  • Health and Stress Considerations: Consider the health and stress level of your snake before flying; consulting with a veterinarian is advisable.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Regulations

  • TSA Screening: All animals, including snakes, need to go through TSA screening. Snakes must be screened along with their carrier. (TSA)

  • Handling Instructions: TSA recommends that you do not take your snake out of its carrier unless instructed by an officer. (TSA)

  • Snake-Specific Rules: Always check the TSA website for the latest information on traveling with a snake.

Federal and State Regulations

  • Endangered Species Act: If the snake is a species that is protected or regulated, additional federal laws may apply.
  • State Restrictions: Some states have specific restrictions on certain species of snakes, which could impact your ability to travel with them.

Choosing the Right Airline

  • Specialized Pet Programs: Some airlines have specialized programs or partnerships for traveling with pets that could benefit you and your snake.
  • Airline Restrictions: Always verify the particular airline’s restrictions on pet travel; some airlines do not allow snakes on board at all.
  • Costs and Fees: Be prepared to pay additional fees for traveling with your snake, as many airlines charge for in-cabin or cargo pet travel.

Preparing Your Snake for Flight

  • Feeding Schedule: Adjust your snake’s feeding schedule to reduce the likelihood of stress and mess during the flight.
  • Climate Control: Ensure your snake’s carrier provides adequate ventilation and temperature control, especially for temperature-sensitive species.

Please note that these guidelines are subject to change, and it is crucial to check both TSA ( and your chosen airline’s latest requirements before planning your trip with a snake.

Pros Cons
Service or emotional support animals can be accommodated for passengers with a disability Most airlines have strict policies and regulations against bringing snakes on passenger flights
Certain small, non-venomous snakes can travel in secure carriers that meet airline requirements Snakes can pose a safety risk if they escape their containment during the flight
Permits snake owners to travel without having to rehome their pet or find pet-sitters Many passengers may feel uncomfortable or phobic about the presence of a snake on a plane
Traveling with a snake can be necessary for relocation, educational purposes, or conservation work International travel can be complicated due to varying wildlife import/export laws
Allows for maintaining the care and bond between the pet and owner There’s potential for extra fees and quarantine requirements, depending on the destination

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets forth regulations that are widely adopted by airlines for the transport of live animals, including snakes. These guidelines are designed to ensure the safety and welfare of animals during flights. The IATA Live Animals Regulations (LAR) is the global standard for transporting live animals by commercial airlines. When flying with snakes internationally, it is crucial to adhere to these guidelines:

  • Use of an appropriate container: The container must be secure, clean, and escape-proof. It should also be ventilated and large enough for the snake to move freely.
  • Health and documentation: A health certificate from a veterinarian and any required permits must accompany the snake.
  • Feeding and watering instructions: These should be clearly marked on the container, although feeding is generally not recommended within 24 hours of the flight.
  • Temperature and handling: The container should be kept at a temperature that is comfortable for the snake, and handling should be minimized to reduce stress.

For more detailed information, refer to the IATA guidelines on their website:

IATA Live Animals and Pets

Country Specific Regulations

When transporting snakes across international borders, it is essential to be aware of and comply with the regulations specific to each country. These regulations can vary widely and may include restrictions on species that can be imported or exported, quarantine requirements, and additional health and safety certifications. It is important to research the specific requirements for both the country of origin and the destination country well in advance of travel.

United Kingdom

UK Government – Importing animals


EU Pet Movement Regulations


Canadian Food Inspection Agency – Importing Animals


Australian Department of Agriculture – Importing Live Animals

New Zealand

New Zealand MPI – Importing Live Animals


Regulations in Asia vary by country, and it is important to check with the relevant authorities in the specific country you are planning to visit or transit through.


Singapore NParks – Importing Animals

10 Airline-Specific Regulations for Flying with Snakes

Each airline has its own set of policies and regulations regarding the transport of live animals, including snakes. It is important to consult with the airline well in advance of your trip to understand their specific requirements, which may include:

  • Advance booking and notification
  • Approved travel containers
  • Restrictions on species or size
  • Documentation and health certificates
  • Temperature control during the flight
  • Additional fees

Below are links to the live animal transport policies for 10 international airlines:

American Airlines

American Airlines Cargo – Animals

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines – Shipping Your Pet

United Airlines

United Airlines PetSafe


Lufthansa – Travelling with Animals

Air France

Air France – Transporting Animals


KLM – Flying with Pets


Emirates – Transporting Animals


Qantas – Flying with Pets

Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific – Priority Pet

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines – Travelling with Pets

Packing Snakes in Luggage: A Comprehensive Guide

Traveling with snakes can be a complex process that requires consideration of airline policies, legal requirements, and the safety of your pet snake. When preparing to pack a snake in your luggage, the first step is to check with your airline regarding their specific pet policies and ensure that transporting snakes is allowed. Remember that packing a snake for flight is markedly different from packing general luggage or other types of pets. Here are some guidelines to assist you in packing your snake securely for travel in both carry-on and hold luggage.

Carry-On Luggage Packing for Snakes

If your airline allows snakes in the cabin and you opt to take your snake as carry-on, here’s how to pack them:

  • Secure Escape-Proof Container: Use a sturdy, escape-proof container specifically designed to transport reptiles. It should have ventilation holes and be able to be securely locked.
  • Comfortable Bedding: Line the container with soft, absorbent bedding to make the trip more comfortable for your snake and to absorb any waste.
  • Heat Packs: If traveling in cold conditions, consider attaching an airline-approved heat pack to the container to maintain an appropriate temperature for your snake.
  • Familiarity: Place a familiar item from their usual habitat in the container to help minimize stress.
  • Labeling: Clearly label the container with “Live Animal,” your contact information, and the snake’s common and scientific name.
  • Pre-flight Feeding: Feed your snake several days before your flight since they should travel on an empty stomach to avoid regurgitation.

Packing Snakes in Hold Luggage

For those who need to place their snake in hold luggage, the method involves more preparation:

  • IATA Regulations: Follow the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations for the transport of live animals to ensure your pet’s safety and compliance with airline rules.
  • Appropriate Crate: Use a hard-sided IATA-compliant crate that is large enough for your snake to move around but not too large to prevent shifting during transport.
  • Climate Control: If necessary, install a temperature control system in the crate to keep the snake warm enough throughout the journey. This could include pre-heated, airline-approved gel packs or heating pads.
  • Identication and Documentation: Affix the crate with a “Live Animal” sticker, and include your snake’s identification information. Also, carry all necessary documentation required by the airline or authorities, such as health certificates and proof of legal ownership.
  • Secure Lock: Ensure the crate has a lock that can be easily opened by airport security personnel if required, without them having to break it open.
  • Snakes’ Comfort: Limit the snake’s food intake before the journey, as flying can cause their digestive system to become upset. Ensure they are well-hydrated.

Throughout the process, always place the welfare of your snake as the top priority. Expert handling and adequate preparation are key to ensuring a safe and stress-free journey for your scaly companion. Always verify current rules and regulations before your travel date as policies, and procedures can change.

Similar Items to Consider for Airplane Travel

When traveling by plane, alongside a snake in its secure carrier, you might consider bringing other similar items such as small pets like hamsters, guinea pigs, or lizards, ensuring they are also in appropriate, airline-approved enclosures. For those interested in avian companions, small birds can be a good choice if kept in a safe, comfortable cage. Additionally, aquarium enthusiasts might transport small fish in a portable aquarium that meets airline regulations. It’s crucial to check with the airline for specific pet policies and to ensure all animals have a comfortable journey. Remember to pack any necessary pet supplies, such as food, water, and comfort items, to keep your animal companions calm and content during the flight.

FAQ’s About Can You Bring Snakes On A Plane?

Traveling by air with pets is relatively common, but when it comes to more unconventional companions such as snakes, passengers have questions about regulations, safety, and logistics. This section is dedicated to answering frequently asked questions for those considering or planning to travel with their serpentine friends onboard a commercial flight.

Is it legal to bring a snake on a plane?

Yes, it’s legal, but it depends on the airline’s pet policy. Some airlines allow snakes on planes as cargo or in the cabin if they meet specific requirements and you have received prior approval.

Do I need any special documentation to fly with my snake?

Yes, you may need a health certificate from a veterinarian, along with permits or documentation that comply with local, state, and international regulations, especially if you’re traveling internationally.

Can my snake travel with me in the cabin?

This varies by airline. Some may allow snakes in the cabin if they are secured in an appropriate container, while others may only allow snakes to travel as checked baggage or cargo.

What kind of carrier do I need for my snake?

You will need a secure, escape-proof carrier that is ventilated and meets the airline’s size requirements. It should also be comfortable for the snake and comply with the IATA Live Animal Regulations.

How do I prepare my snake for air travel?

Ensure your snake has not been fed for a couple of days before the trip to prevent regurgitation. Keep them at a comfortable temperature, and try to minimize stress by providing a familiar environment within their carrier.

Are there any breeds of snakes that are prohibited on planes?

Yes, potentially dangerous or venomous snakes are usually not permitted on planes. It’s vital to check with the airline and local laws regarding restricted species.

Will my snake be exposed to X-ray machines at security?

It’s likely that the snake’s carrier will need to go through an X-ray machine. You should communicate with TSA agents, as they may allow a manual inspection if you have concerns about radiation.

Can I take my snake out of its carrier during the flight?

No, for the safety and comfort of all passengers and crew, snakes must remain in their carriers for the duration of the flight.

What should I do if my flight is delayed or canceled?

Have a contingency plan that includes extra supplies for your snake, and inquire with the airline about their policies for passengers traveling with pets during disruptions.

What temperatures are safe for my snake during air travel?

Snakes are sensitive to temperature changes. The cargo hold where pets are usually placed is temperature-controlled, but it’s best to check with the airline for specific temperature ranges to ensure your snake’s safety.

Packing It All Up

Transporting snakes on a plane encompasses numerous regulations and considerations, chiefly for the safety and welfare of both the animal and passengers. Throughout the article, the critical aspect highlighted is that airlines typically have stringent rules about animals onboard, particularly exotic pets like snakes. Potential travelers with serpentine companions are typically required to acquaint themselves with the specific airline’s pet policies, which often require the snake to be transported in secure, escape-proof and ventilated enclosures as part of the cargo hold rather than in the cabin. Additionally, adherence to the guidelines set forth by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and destination-specific wildlife regulations is mandatory when crossing international borders.

The article also emphasized the necessity for a health certificate from a veterinarian certifying the snake’s fitness for travel. Preparations for travel must include considerations for temperature fluctuations, as snakes are ectothermic and require a stable temperature to remain healthy. It’s also crucial for snake owners to be mindful of the potential stress that travel can impose on their pets and plan accordingly to minimize this. While the likelihood of being able to bring a snake into the cabin as an emotional support animal has diminished due to regulatory changes, it remains a possibility under very specific circumstances and airline policies. In summary, while not straightforward, transporting snakes by air can be feasible with meticulous planning and adherence to airline policies and legal regulations.