Snakes on a train

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
June 01, 2011, 10:30 PM GMT+0

One in ten Britons thinks that people should be permitted to take snakes on to trains, our poll has revealed, making the slithery creatures the seventh most popular animal-as-passenger on our list, and the most accepted animal after the more-common domestic pets, such as dogs, cats and hamsters.

We asked a nationally representative group of over 2,000 Brits which animals from our list - ranging from small and domestic, to wild or farmyard - and asked them which, if any, they’d accept as train passengers.

  • Unsurprisingly, man’s best friend is seen as the most acceptable animal, with 51% of people thinking dogs should be allowed aboard (in addition to guide dogs)
  • Feline friends don’t fare quite as well, with just over a third of people (34%) finding them welcome aboard the railways
  • Hamsters (27%), rabbits (25%), parrots (16%) and ferrets (14%) came next in acceptability, just ahead of snakes (10%)
  • While farmyard creatures chickens (9%), sheep, ponies and pigs (3% apiece) were seen as even less agreeable companions
  • And 38% felt that none of these animal travelling companions should be permitted at all

All aboard?

The results come in the wake of several stories in the press of animals’ exploits while on board trains.

On Monday, commuters in Vietnam were struck with panic when staff aboard a train heading from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi discovered see-through sacks of deadly king cobras under a seat. The cobras, whose meat is a delicacy in Vietnam, were headed for a restaurant in the capital.

In a similar but slightly less alarming endeavour, a man in Wrexham, England recently tried to board a train accompanied by a pony. Caught on CCTV, his attempt to board the 1902 BST service to Holyhead on Anglesey was scuppered when he and his four-legged friend were politely asked to leave.

In the UK, National Rail’s conditions of carriage permit two small animals per passenger free of charge, and all creatures apart from dogs must be carried in a small pet carrier that is nevertheless large enough to allow the animal to stand and lie down. Carrying ‘nuisance’ animals (such as snakes or ponies, we assume) may result in your being asked to remove them from the train.