An Air India flight travelling between Mumbai and London was forced to turn back mid-flight last week after a rat was reported on board.

Local media reported that Flight A1 131 was flying over Iran when someone on board mentioned to a stewardess that a stowaway had been spotted. Having safely landed, passengers were loaded onto a replacement aircraft to continue their journey, while the plane was fumigated and the presence of the rodent investigated.

Rats occasionally board planes carrying catering equipment and other supplies and pose a serious health and safety hazard, with the potential to damage technical equipment by chewing through wires. The airline said that “though the presence of the rodent was not confirmed”, the decision to abort the flight was precautionary and in the interest of passenger safety.

This is not the first time a rat sighting has been reported on an Air India jet. An aircraft was forced to return to New Delhi back in July, after a rodent was spotted on board a flight to Milan.