Snake on a train: The payback
Penelope the snake rode among the strap-hangers on Boston's T Red Line for a month.
February 24th, 2011
07:26 AM ET

Snake on a train: The payback

When Melissa Moorhouse got on a Red Line subway train in Boston on January 7, her pet snake, Penelope, was coiled cozily under her scarf.

When Moorhouse got off the train, Penelope, a Dumeril's boa, stayed behind, hiding somewhere in the car, CNN affiliate WCVB-TV reported.

A month passed before another passenger reported seeing a snake on the "T," as the Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority system is called. After another search, Penelope was found, safe and sound, and returned to Moorhouse.

But that's not all the T folks had for Moorhouse. This week she received a $650 bill, she told the station.

"To rid the subway car of any traces of germs such as salmonella, which may have been left by your snake, MBTA maintenance crews had to scrub and disinfect the Red Line car in which your snake was found," MBTA Treasurer-Controller Wesley Wallace wrote to Moorhouse.

Moorhouse didn't think she deserved the bill.

"I understand sanitizing the train, but shouldn't that be done anyway?" she told WCVB. "A lot of different people with a lot of different sicknesses are on that train. People throw up on the train, people bleed on the train. Do they have to pay to get it cleaned?"

The MBTA told Moorhouse she should use a pet carrier if she carries the snake on a train again.

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Filed under: Animals • Massachusetts • Snakes • U.S.
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Cesar

    I'm happy for slittering Penelope, but I think trains should be sanatized anyway like Moorehouse said, as well as passenger planes and buses, which we all know does not happen often. *sniff sniff* $650-rip off.

    February 24, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |

    I just farted. Shooooo : )

    February 24, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. banasy

    Maybe they should have charged her for all the rides instead. There are no free rides in life, lol!

    February 24, 2011 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. banasy

    Chicago's el trains don't look like they've been cleaned *ever*! At least Boston's are...even if they're blaming it on her snake.
    And if she *has* to pay that bill, she should up a plaque in that car, commemorating the event...she could redecorate that car...own it, lol

    February 24, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. me

    she should not have to pay that bill! those trains should be disinfected daily anyway! i cant imagine what kind of nasty things are growing in there.. YUCK!!!

    February 24, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy

    I agree that she shouldn't have to pay the bill, but my question is: why would she ever take a boa on a train, anyway? They *do* have snake carriers. I'm sure Boston will drop it. But she should take some of the 650 she saved, and buy a pet carrier. Most transit lines require them, at least the one I've been on do.

    February 24, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tim

    You should be sent to jail for travelling with a snake , you put lot of people at risk by doing that.. you got away lightly... pay up

    February 24, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • NFM

      Wow, someone is overly afraid of snakes and over acting here.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotaPoster

      Lol, either a troll or a extremely ignorant comment.

      February 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sutler

    Ok, let me get this straight...

    Lady boards train.
    Lady has snake coiled under scarf.
    Lady leaves train.
    Lady lost snake.

    So, at what point did she think to herself, the littel bugger coiled under my scarf is starting to slither away...Maybe I should hold onto him and keep him from wandering off?!

    I hope they don't retract the bill. If anything, she should think of it as a stupidity charge!

    February 24, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. Ann Lynch

    She shouldn't be allowed to ride on the train with the snake WITHOUT a pet carrier – who does she think she is?

    February 24, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. banasy

    You guys are all right; they just need a better way to charge with something other than the cleaning and sanitation of the car, which should be done on a daily basis anyway.

    Get for a exotic-pet charge, unlawful per transportation...anything but a ticket for what they do anyway. How about room and board for that month? Hope somebody crawls out of the woodwork and sues her for mental and emotional distress, because *somebody* had to have seen that thing!

    What if it got ticked off and try to strangle somebody? People have to transport their cats and hamsters in a pet carrier; why would this dork think she's exempt? Because she views her snake as a fashion accessory? Puhleeze!

    February 24, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. banasy

    Sorry about the typos.

    February 24, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. sue

    If I ever bit by snake while riding subway, I will get best lawyers and sue that subway and also owner of snake too!

    February 24, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. me

    Maybe if they cleaned daily they would of found it sooner. Note to self do not touch anything on subways.

    February 24, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. dcn8v

    I think she got off light with a $650 fine. Clearly they would have had to take the train out of service to search for the snake, and paid people to corral and handle the animal. The cleaning fee is weird- that snake was there for a month before they found it. If it was going to spread salmonilla, it had a month to do it.

    Then again, she could probably charge them for the rats that the snake exterminated while riding around for a month. It might come out even!

    February 24, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. Veronica

    I think Moorhouse was very irresponible with her pet and she deserve the $650 bill.

    February 24, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
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