An albino Japanese rat snake
An albino rat snake, seen in south-western Japan Reuters

One of Japan's high-speed bullet trains was forced to make an emergency stop after a woman spotted a snake wrapped around an armrest. The train was leaving Tokyo when the discovery was made and had to stop at Hamamatsu City.

A spokesperson for Japan Rail Central told CNN that they did not know where the reptile had come from: "We don't know how the snake got on the train, or if it was a wild or a pet snake," adding, "this isn't a normal occurrence either as you can't have pet snakes on trains."

The foot-long snake was captured by police on Monday (26 September), who said "the operation went smoothly". They said the serpent was not thought to be poisonous, luckily for the man whose armrest it was wrapped around. He reportedly did not notice for 50 minutes of the journey.

A local zoo told Japanese media that the snake was a rat snake, a non-venomous species that feeds mainly on birds and rodents by constricting them.

Even with the incident, the train arrived at its Hiroshima destination without being delayed.