A woman who was stopped from boarding a plane by airport security staff after they found a four-foot boa constrictor in her carry-on baggage insisted it was her “emotional support snake”.

The reptile, named Bartholomew, was spotted on a routine X-ray of the passenger’s bags by staff at Tampa airport, Florida.

The US Transportation Security Administration [TSA] explained that airlines don't allow snakes in carry-on bags, and only a few will allow them in checked bags if the animal is packaged correctly.

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TSA Spokesperson Lisa Farbstein tweeted: “Snake on a plane? This is a TSA X-ray of Bartholomew, a boa constrictor who was in a traveller's carry-on bag at [Tampa Airport] last month."

She added: “Woman claimed the snake was her emotional support pet. TSA notified the airline, which ruled that there was not going to be a snake on their plane!”

Joining in the fun on Instagram, the official TSA account posted an image of the tell-tale x-ray, saying: “"There’s a danger noodle in that bag… Our officers at Tampa International Airport didn’t find this hyssssssterical!

“Coiled up in a passenger’s carry-on was a 4’ boa constrictor! We really have no adder-ation for discovering any pet going through an x-ray machine”.

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While a monster snake might seem an unusual item to find on board an airliner, security staff have found stranger stowaways.

Stunned customs officers at Munich Airport discovered a live albino alligator hidden in a suitcase belonging to an American airline passenger.

The would-be animal smuggler was attempting to take the rare reptile from Munich to Singapore when sharp-eyed security staff noticed an unusual object on the x-ray luggage scanner.

And in August last year customs officials at Chennai airport were astounded when they found nearly two dozen animals that had been smuggled in a man's checked luggage.

The reported smuggler snuck 15 king snakes, five ball pythons, two aldabra tortoises and one De Brazza monkey in boxes in his checked luggage on a flight from Bangkok, which officials discovered after a tip-off alerted them to the possible smuggling plan.

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