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. Henry

    Well done Wesley! We need more people like you serving in Government who actually give a damn about the taxpayers!

    February 24, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. Pedro

    Just pay the bill Moorhouse. . . . Wesley for Governor!!!!!!!! The Teaparty needs you!

    February 24, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. palur

    I hate snakes rather petrified. It is completely irresponsible act and may kill people by sheer shock. She should be fined.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boheme

      Aw, nonsense. Faint hearted ones do not ride the metro, by itself a smelly, noisy and rude place.

      February 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      @Palur, I agree with Boheme you should not be afraid of snakes but rather stinky, overcrowded and apparently extremely filthy subway trains should petrify you more than a harmless Boa!

      February 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. caleb

    it's the massachusetts bay transportation authority dude. if you go to their website, it will tell you that. i thought you were suppose to be journalists.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Evan

    Let me get this straight... if someone sneezes on the T and gets mucus everywhere (I mean, LOADS of the gooey virus-filled stuff), and one of T's security officers witnesses the event, and T's sanitation team scrubs the car... will they bill the sneezer for the cost of the scrub down?

    I think a stern warning that if this happens again, they will bill this woman, with a suggestion to use a pet carrier - and perhaps a sign on the T warning passengers they MUST transport pets in carriers - is sufficient and the right legal response (and I'm not an attorney but watched Law and Order and Damages enough to know!).

    February 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank - Ohio

    A month passes by and no " Ewwws"," Eeeeks" ," it's a snake!" ? The MBTA should be thankful she didn't wield a Brown, or a Diamond Back Rattler. 😉

    February 24, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rob

    was it a service animal? a seeing eye snake?

    February 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kim

    Pay the money she should of not had a snake on a train anyway. Yuck

    February 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jake the

    Despite the scare promoted by Oprah and others, salmonella is rarely transmitted by pet reptiles. Still, hipster Moorehouse deserves a punishment for giving a black eye to snakes and those who keep them responsibly.

    February 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeff Frank - Ohio

    @ jake the – Finally... some up in here that "gets it"!

    February 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. skeetz1234

    This person should pay the bill, then turn around an sue MBTA for 100 people jammed in train car * $550 (since each person would have not have been able to enjoy a sanitized train car) * the number of cars that are connected together (could have potentially gotten on any of the cars) * the total number of cars that MBTA runs on a daily basis (who know which cars could have showed up, it literally could have been anyt they had) . Additionally, she should sue MBTA because had it not been for the snake, who knows when the cars would have been sanitzed, her leaving the snake of the train actually benefiited other folks that ride MBTA., she actually did the public some good. Meanwhile, she should also try to sue them for negligence because they didnt find the snake for 30 days, which means, the potential for not inspecting any cars within the same period of time exists. Perhaps they should shut down MBTA until they provide proof that MBTA provide clean and sanitary vehicles for the public to ride in. If it were me, I'd get the most aggressive attorney to go after them.

    February 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pedro

    Hey Wesley.... next time have Moorehouse clean the train..... a small price for such irresponsibility

    February 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Boheme

    Sounds like snake oil reasoning to me...

    February 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alex Pandian

    There are pets, and then there are pets. Snakes, and other related slithery reptiles must be banned from riding on public transport. When will people understand that reptiles are not universally accepted as pets ? Hell, Cats & Dogs. Thats it folks !!!

    Absolute lack of common sense. Snakes terrify majority of people. Period.

    February 24, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Poor Snake

      @ Alex – – I do not believe your statement regarding the majority of people being terrified of snakes is accurate and it is not even the point. The point here is that Moorhouse is a moron who has no business having a pet she does not know how to properly care for.

      February 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gb

    I carried on a small dog onto that train 3 weeks ago and I thought he ran our the door – check that snakes belly

    February 24, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
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