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16 November 2000
Night surveillance will start as soon as weather improves in a further attempt to find the slithery owner of the snakeskin believed to have been shed in Freemans Bay, Auckland late last month.
The search will resume on the next warm and dry Auckland evening. If as suspected, the snake came from a more tropical climate in Australia, the cool weather recently experienced in Auckland may have discouraged the snake from moving.
The skin's owner is believed to be a 1.8 metre long member of the Boidae family, which includes snakes such as pythons and boas. Most likely it is a species of python called a carpet or diamond python, which is widespread in eastern and northern Australia. These snakes are commonly kept as pets in Australia because of their docile nature.
Night surveillance will be undertaken because carpet snakes commonly come out at night to forage for small animals such as rats, mice, birds and lizards. A daytime search of house roof spaces in the vicinity of where the snakeskin was found, and that may be accessible to a snake, will also be undertaken. Roof spaces and attics could provide a snake with a warm hideout, and older houses may provide a good food source of rats and mice. The roof top search will be done only with the householder's permission.
Two previous searches undertaken by MAF found nothing. The first search was unsuccessful due to cold and wet weather, making it impossible for the dogs to pick up the snake's scent.
Diamond or carpet pythons are very secretive animals, hiding by day in dense vegetation, or in or under buildings. The species is known for its preferences for heights such as trees. At night they come out to hunt, although occasionally they come out during the daytime to bask in the sun.
This python species is not venomous, nor dangerous to humans. However, they can inflict a painful bite if provoked and there is always a risk that the bite could become infected. It is unclear how the python got into Auckland. It may have been a stowaway in cargo or freight or it may have been deliberately brought into the country. It is illegal to bring snakes into New Zealand and keep them as pets because of the threat they pose to our environment and native fauna.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is taking the possibility of a snake in the Freemans Bay area seriously. The public is asked to report any possible snake sightings to MAF on its 24-hour hotline freephone 0800-809-966.
The public should not attempt to catch the snake themselves.
For further information contact:
Gita Parsot, MAF Communications. Telephone: N/A.