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5 September 2000
A 13-inch long venomous snake has been found in an industrial building in Petone.
The glossy black snake was found on Sunday when a shipping container of used vehicle batteries from Australia was being unloaded.
The snake has been identified as a juvenile Rhinoplocephalus nigresens, commonly known overseas as the eastern small-eyed snake. It is common to the East Coast of Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland and is often found under equipment stored outside on the ground. It would be able to survive in New Zealand conditions.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Director of Animal Biosecurity Derek Belton said the Ministry is undertaking precautionary surveillance in and around the area the snake was found.
This finding, and the circumstantial evidence associated with the arrival of an eastern brown snake earlier this year in much the same location, implicates used batteries as a risk pathway for snake incursions to New Zealand. The batteries generate heat and fumes. Because of the fumes, container doors are often left open for extended periods during loading. The open doors provide snakes a path to the warmth generated by the batteries.
"There are another nine containers of imported used batteries on the wharves. These and any other imports of used batteries will all be fumigated until alternative means of dealing with the risks of snake incursions in containers of batteries are identified.
"We will also be looking at effective containment of shipping pallets of used batteries as they are being unloaded so that if there is something that has stowed away on board a container, it can not get away," he said.
The snake has been euthanased.
For further information contact:
Derek Belton, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Director of Animal Biosecurity. Telephone: 04-474-4155
Gita Parsot, MAF Communications. Telephone: N/A