Venomous snake found in Rangiora supermarket banana box

The cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira ornata) lives in the Amazon rainforest. Photo: File / Getty Images
The cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira ornata) lives in the Amazon rainforest. Photo: File / Getty Images
Workers at a Rangiora supermarket have been given a fright after finding a snake in a box of bananas from Ecuador.

The Ministry for Primary Industries was 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.

It 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 New Zealand each year.

A further four to eight are caught at the border.

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

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

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

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

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

MPI says anyone who spots what could be an unwanted pest or disease in New Zealand should report their sighting on 0800 80 99 66.

 

 

 

 

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