A small turtle found in a plane’s luggage compartment in Hobart will be euthanased, authorities say.
The reptile dropped out of an overhead compartment onto a seat as passengers on a Melbourne-to-Hobart Jetstar flight were getting ready to disembark. Read more Jetstar lost and found jetstar lost property
The reptile landed on the foot of passenger Patrick Kelly, who was reaching for his baggage shortly after his plane touched down on Sunday afternoon.
“At first I thought it was a toy turtle sort of statue — and then it moved on my feet,” he said.
It was a Murray River short-necked turtle, a freshwater species often kept as a pet.
Nobody on the plane came forward as its owner.
“They [flight staff] did ask if anyone on the plane had lost a turtle, people found that pretty funny,” Mr Kelly said.
“A flight attendant picked it up with a napkin and took it away.”
Mr Kelly said the turtle appeared to be in good health.
“It looked to be moving its little webbed legs fine and sticking its head in and out,” he said.
“It certainly didn’t look too scarred from the flight.”
Bemused passengers started asking how the turtle ended up in a luggage compartment.
Turtle an ‘invasive species’, so will be euthanased
There are no freshwater turtles native to Tasmania and they have been listed as prohibited wildlife since 2008.
It is illegal for the turtles to be brought into the state, and according to the Department of Primary Industries the animals pose “a significant risk to our native freshwater species and waterways”.
A spokesman for the department said the turtle would be, or may already have been, euthanased by members of the wildlife operations section. read more Hobart airport lost and found
He said it was not an option anyone liked but the reptile posed a threat to native wildlife and the department had no capacity to send it back to Victoria.
Tasmania may not have been intended destination
Mr Kelly said the plane had been delayed for 45 minutes before taking off from Melbourne.
He suspects flight staff must have missed the turtle when they checked the plane.
A Jetstar spokeswoman told the ABC the turtle probably fell out of someone’s bag.
She said the plane had been flying between Melbourne and Sydney, before the flight to Hobart.
The turtle was handed over to biosecurity officers.
Biosecurity Tasmania has been contacted for comment.
The turtle is not the only animal to find its way to Tasmania in strange circumstances.
A giant panda snail was sent illegally to the island state using Australia Post’s express post service in March.
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