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The Ministry for Primary Industries inspector has only just completed snake training in Adelaide before they found the dead snake in the container from Brisbane, which was being de-contaminated at a secure quarantine facility.
MPI's southern border clearance services team leader Craig Jorgensen said the snake appeared to have been making a bid for freedom when it got caught in wire mesh, where it was found dead on Thursday.
"Netting is ideal for catching snakes, as they easily get tangled."
The snake was yet to be formally identified, but was believed to be a non-venomous carpet python.
Mr Jorgensen said the container was full of food scraps and was packed without any consideration for New Zealand's biosecurity requirements.
He said MPI had highly trained dog teams and inspection staff ready to respond to any snake incursion.
"New Zealand is relatively free from venomous pests. We want to keep it that way."
More than 60 snakes have been found in shipping containers and other cargo since 2000.