Venomous snake found in Rangiora supermarket banana box

Author
Courtney Winter, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Jul 2021, 11:53AM
The juvenile Leptodeira ornate snake that was found at a Rangiora supermarket. (Photo / Supplied)
The juvenile Leptodeira ornate snake that was found at a Rangiora supermarket. (Photo / Supplied)

Venomous snake found in Rangiora supermarket banana box

Author
Courtney Winter, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 13 Jul 2021, 11:53AM

Workers at a Rangiora supermarket have been given a fright after finding a snake in a box of bananas from Ecuador.

Ministry of Primary Industries were notified about a dead snake at the New World store on May 10.

An MPI snake specialist formally identified the 20.7cm reptile as a juvenile Leptodeira ornate, commonly known as an ornate cat-eyed snake, found in South America.

A Leptodeira ornata is a mildly venomous rear-fanged snake that can inflict a painful bite if provoked, but it is not regarded as dangerous to humans.

It's also a strictly tropical species that would not be able to survive a New Zealand winter and could not naturalise here.

One or two snakes are found past the border- dead and alive - around the country each year.

A further four to eight are caught at the border.

They are normally not venomous and mostly arrive dead, because of treatment of imported cargo.

In March, workers found a metre-long Australian carpet python at a construction site in Papakura, South Auckland.

It's thought to have become trapped inside a sealed pipe that travelled from across the Tasman.

The python is now in a laboratory as part of a specimen collection.

An MPI spokesperson said its biosecurity system has proven very effective to date in preventing snakes from establishing in New Zealand.

They ask anyone who spots what could be an unwanted pest or disease in New Zealand, to report the sighting to 0800 80 99 66.