Abu Dhabi // A passenger has been arrested at Abu Dhabi airport after spending more than eight hours with a bag of snakes on a plane.
The Saudi passenger was said to have been carrying four snakes, two parrots and a squirrel in his hand luggage.
He was caught at the first security checkpoint after arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport on Etihad Airlines flight EY471 from Jakarta, which landed in the capital shortly before midnight on Thursday.
The animals were not licensed for international transport. They had no health certification, nor confirmation that they were not on any endangered list.
Abu Dhabi police officials expressed surprise that the passenger had cleared security at Jakarta with the animals.
Khamis al Marar, the acting director general of security affairs and ports in Abu Dhabi, stressed that carrying animals on board is strictly prohibited. In this case, other passengers' safety was at risk, he said.
He added that licensed animals had to travel in specially designed boxes, which should be stored in the aircraft's hold.
However, it is not the first time unauthorised reptiles have made their way into the passenger cabin of an Abu Dhabi-bound flight.
In August last year, a baby lizard caused panic on a flight from Cairo after it was found wandering along the aisle, having worked its way free of the bag in which it had been smuggled.
Some animal traffickers go even further. A man was arrested in February last year after flying from Dubai to Melbourne with two live pigeons stuffed inside his pants.