Passengers on a flight from Melbourne to Hobart got a big surprise when a turtle dropped out of an overhead compartment as they began to disembark.

ABC reported that the reptile was discovered on the Jetstar flight by passenger Patrick Kelly, when it landed on his foot as he reached for his baggage.

"At first I thought it was a toy turtle sort of statue - and then it moved on my feet," he said.

While flight staff asked if anyone had lost a turtle - "people found that pretty funny" - the reptile was left unclaimed.

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It was believed to be a freshwater Murray River short-necked turtle, a species often kept as pets.

A flight attendant picked up the turtle in a napkin and took it away, Mr Kelly said.

Despite haven flown on a plane just to be later abandoned, 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," Mr Kelly said.

"It certainly didn't look too scarred from the flight."

Unfortunately, freshwater turtles are not native to Tasmania and have been listed as prohibited wildlife since 2009.

A spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries told ABC the turtle would be euthanised as it posed a threat to native wildlife.

A spokeswoman for Jetstar told ABC the turtle had probably fallen out of someone's bag and the plane had previously flown between Melbourne and Sydney, prior to the flight to Hobart.

- nzherald.co.nz