20 weirdest items confiscated by the TSA, in pictures

The US Transportation Security Administration is always looking out for banned items. From batarangs to eels to skull fragments, here are 20 odd objects that didn't pass inspection.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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My airplane is full of eels

The Transportation Security Administration's Instagram feed is a wonderland full of strange and bizarre items confiscated by the agency. Not everything is a concealed gun. Sometimes human skull fragments, rare birds and suspicious enchiladas show up.

Please enjoy this nightmarish image of a plastic bag full of eels. The TSA confiscated the eels along with 163 tropical fish and 22 invertebrates when a flyer attempted to smuggle them through security in a checked bag. The passenger surrendered all the animals to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Hidden weapon

A mess of modeling clay hides a loaded firearm wrapped in duct tape and hidden inside a computer. A passenger attempted to get this weird concoction through checked baggage at a Houston airport. Guns are allowed in checked bags, but only if they've been declared and are properly packed.

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Human skull

This might look like the remnants of an archaeological dig, but it's actually a discovery made by the TSA while screening some clay pots at a Florida airport. The passenger in possession of the pots was unaware of the human skull fragments hidden inside.

"The fragments weren't a security threat, but they slowed down the screening process because the screening area became a crime scene," the TSA writes.

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The TSA even subjects Batman to scrutiny. This pair of batarangs didn't get past the security agency despite being hidden in a carry-on bag. They're still considered knives and can't be taken into the cabin of an airplane.

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Gun belt buckle

You should think twice about your wardrobe choices before you board a plane in the US. A Los Angeles passenger had to give up this novelty belt buckle because it looks like a small gun. Replica firearms aren't permitted because they "can cause alarm in the airport/airplane environment."

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The whole enchilada

The TSA doesn't allow passengers to carry knives onto airplanes, even when those knives are merely meant to help in the consumption of a meal. This long knife was found tucked inside a foil-wrapped enchilada.

"While this was a great catch, the passenger's intent was delicious, not malicious, and she was cleared for travel. It's always important to double check your bags and enchiladas," the TSA writes.

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You might be tempted to pack a souvenir cannonball into your luggage. Don't try it. The TSA confiscated this cannonball and an antique flare gun when a passenger tried to bring them on board in a carry-on bag.

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Ninja climbing claws

A not-so-stealthy ninja wannabe had these climbing claws confiscated by the TSA from a carry-on bag. Future flying ninjas take note: you can pack your claws in your checked baggage, but you can't put them in your carry-on luggage.

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A five-bladed flogger counts as one of the more unusual weapons ever confiscated by the TSA. "If you're in a situation where you're going to need your floggers, they'll have to be packed in checked baggage," the TSA deadpans on Instagram.

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Grenade hitch

Grenades don't fly with the TSA, even when they're inert replicas. The security agency confiscated this hand grenade trailer hitch and reminded passengers that "anything resembling a bomb or grenade is prohibited from both carry-on and checked bags."

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No snakes on a plane

This might look like a really weird bagel, but it's actually a group of small snakes tucked into nylon stockings. The TSA found the unfortunate critters stuffed into a traveler's pants along with three small turtles. The US Fish and Wildlife Service took custody of the animals and arrested the passenger.

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X-ray pizza

Here's a positive story that appeared on the TSA's Instagram feed. The photo shows a pizza preparing to go through the X-ray scanner at an airport in Philadelphia. The pizza was not confiscated. "So in case you were wondering, pie can fly," the TSA says.

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A bird on the body

A woman's bulky clothing triggered a TSA pat-down. Officers discovered these two birds wrapped in socks and taped to the passenger's leg and chest. US Fish and Wildlife Service officers arrested the woman "on suspicion of smuggling and exporting an endangered species out of the United States."

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Bottle of seahorses

The TSA confiscated an oversized bottle of liquor from a flyer in Michigan who tucked it into a carry-on bag. What's truly strange about the find is the five dead seahorses inside the container. The TSA called in the local fish and game authorities to handle the discovery.

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3D-printed gun

The TSA confiscated this unusual replica weapon in August. The 3D-printed revolver was loaded with live ammunition. "While firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags, you can pack them in your checked baggage, as long as you meet the packing guidelines," the TSA says.

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Lipstick stun gun

This bejeweled item might look like a tube of lipstick, but it's actually a stun gun. "All stun guns are prohibited from being packed in carry-on bags or carried on your person," the TSA notes.

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Not-so-explosive vest

A checked bag at the Indianapolis International Airport set off quite a few alarms during a screening. TSA officers found "30 electric matches, a bag of potassium chlorate, a bag of titanium powder and a suicide vest."

Fortunately, this was not part of a terror plot. "All of the items were inert and the passenger was an explosives instructor traveling with his training aids," the TSA notes.

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Take a number

The TSA's Instagram feed includes a surprising number of fake grenades confiscated from passengers. This joke prop encourages people to pull the pin, but the TSA doesn't find it funny. "All grenades are treated as real until the explosives experts can prove otherwise, which often leads to delayed flights or luggage," the TSA notes.

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Pointy iPhone case

The Transportation Security Administration is always on the lookout for passengers trying to sneak knives on planes, either on their person or in their carry-on luggage. This Swiss Army-style iPhone case did not pass inspection. The serrated knife appears on the no-fly list.

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Cannon barrel

The TSA found this hefty piece of war memorabilia in a passenger's checked items. The ornate cannon barrel appears to be very old. "Our officers have discovered cannonballs in the past, but this is the first cannon I can recall," the TSA writes on Instagram.

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