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Snake on a Train

Image - Snake on a Train

The title says it all. Yes, we had a snake on a train last Friday.

We first reported the event as “an issue with a live animal”. An hour later, we were happy to announce that a pet snake had been found.

Unfortunately for our curious customers, we had to constrict the story to two tweets.

Now, we can’t let this opportunity to tell you how to travel with pets slip away.

Here is the story of how a python got lost on the O-Train and reunited with its owner.

“Have you seen my snake?”

On the evening of Friday, June 16, an eastbound train pulled into Hurdman Station.

A customer notified the Electric Rail Operator (ERO) that their pet snake was missing. The ERO notified the Transit Operations Control Centre (TOCC) that a pet snake had escaped and was nowhere to be seen.

The train was held at Hurdman Station as the TOCC dispatched Special Constables and Shawna, one of our Rail Operations Superintendents, to the scene.

Shawna was in the downtown core when she heard over the radio that a train was being held due to a lost pet.

When Shawna arrived at Hurdman Station, two OC Transpo Special Constables were on scene gathering information from the owner. That’s when Shawna found out what type of pet was missing.

“It was a nine-month-old ball python that was approximately two feet long and had escaped from its owner’s backpack”, said Shawna. The ball-python is non-venomous and can grow to be six feet long

The owner showed everyone where they were sitting at the time when they noticed the snake was missing

As a Rail Superintendent, Shawna knows our trains inside and out. She has seen numerous trains being built from start to finish.

“I had a hunch where it was”, said Shawna, thinking where the snake could have been hiding. She had a feeling that the cold-blooded snake would go somewhere warm, away from the air-conditioned interior.

Shawna contacted the TOCC on her radio and asked them to dispatch a Guideway Technician with specific tools to help dismantle the seat

Once the technician arrived, they slowly dismantled the seat and sure enough, they spotted the ball python relaxing in a dark, warm location underneath the seat. Not wanting to scare the snake, Shawna invited the owner over to help retrieve it. “I knew the snake would recognize its owner’s smell,” said Shawna

When the snake was back in the hands of the owner, the train was removed from service and travelled back to Belfast Yard to have the seat put back together

“I’m just happy the snake was safely reunited with its owner,” said Shawna. “It was a real team effort. We couldn’t have done it without the coordination of the TOCC, the quick response of our Special Constables, and the technical assistance of Rideau Transit Maintenance.

When asked how she pieced together where the snake was, Shawna said, “I know our trains and I watch a lot of discovery channel.”

Tips for travelling with pets

While we’re glad the owner was reunited with their pet, here’s a quick reminder of our rules to ensure all trips with pets have happy endings.

OC Transpo and Para Transpo customers are allowed to board with small pets.

Here is what you need to know when boarding the bus or train with your pet:

  • Your pet must be secured in a pet carrier at all times
  • When seated, pet carriers must be carried on the customers’ laps
  • When standing, pet carriers must be held by the customer or be placed on the floor at the customers’ feet and out of the way of other customers
  • Pet carriers must not be placed on seats or on top of any wheel well housing
  • Pet carriers must not be placed within aisles so as not to impede customer flow through the vehicle
  • All small pets must be acceptable according to the City of Ottawa’s Animal Care and Control By-law, Schedule B

As per the by-law, here are the animals that cannot take transit:

  • Non-domesticated cats and dogs
  • Non-domesticated cats and dogs
  • All snakes larger than three metres
  • All predatory or large birds

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