Someone Brought a Snake on the Red Line

Not OK, the MBTA says.

You may not be a fan of them, and their slithering may give you the willies. But yes, you can bring a snake on the MBTA, officials say. Just not like this.

The question arose Monday after a commuter was spotted riding the Red Line Monday afternoon with a medium-size snake dangling in his arms.

Fellow passenger Anne Keane, of Hingham, posted to Twitter a short video of her snake-having fellow rider while aboard a Braintree-bound train around 4 p.m. The clip includes the all-caps description “THAT IS A SNAKE,” along with a request for information from the MBTA. “Snake. On the train,” she wrote, “@mbta uh…what’s the policy here?”

Well, asked and answered.

“Pets such as this should be transported in a secured carrier,” says Joe Pesaturo, MBTA’s spokesman, in an email.

The man’s face is obscured in the video. But as you can see, his snake is, skin-crawlingly, not in a carrier of any kind and is just dangling there.

In an interview, Keane says she’s not afraid of snakes, per se—although she would be more nervous if she had been riding with her young daughter. But she was a little concerned about what might happen if the pet got loose. She says the snake attracted the attention of a few commuters, including one who asked, and was allowed, to hold it while a friend took pictures. “I was, like, ‘This guy that doesn’t hold snakes is gonna drop him or something.’”

The MBTA’s animal policy states that pets are allowed to ride the MBTA with their owners “at the discretion of T vehicle operators” and as long as those pets do not “annoy riders or take up a seat.” At rush hour, owners are asked to keep their pets in “lap-sized containers.” Service animals are always allowed on.

The policy, which is largely focused on dogs, does not mention snakes. But we checked, and snakes are fine. Just about any pet is fine on the T, so long as everyone follows the rules, Pesaturo says, adding, “We also urge the use of common sense.”

There’s reason to be a little ill-at-ease about sharing a train with an un-caged snake. Who can forget that time, in 2011, when a three-foot-long boa named Penelope got loose on the Red Line, and then lived covertly inside the T for weeks.


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com