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New Zealand Government Media Release
29 May 2000
A snake found at a garden centre in Waimauku was killed by the fumigation that took place at the border, Acting Biosecurity Minister Jim Sutton said today.
Agriculture and Forestry Ministry staff were called to the garden centre on Sunday and found a large stack of old railway sleepers with the tail end of a snake showing from between them. The tail had fly strike on it and did not move after prodding so the remaining sleepers were removed revealing the entire snake.
The snake's head had been slighly crushed between two of the sleepers. On close examination the snake was seen to have been dead for some time and numerous maggots were attacking the body.
The railway sleepers were in bales of 10 strapped with wire bands. These sleepers are always fumigated on arrival because of the risks associated with them.
MAF staff have identified the snake as most likely to be a "childrens python" Liasis childreni. This snake is non venomous and feeds on small mammals and birds. It is widespread in coastal and inland regions of northern Australia.
The railway sleepers were imported from Australia. Mr Sutton said that while it was unfortunate another snake had been found here, the find did demonstrate that border controls were working. The snake had been killed by the fumigation which took place when the railway sleepers came into Auckland port.
In addition, shipping containers and their cargo from known "high risk" countries are subject to an increased level of inspection since last month, Mr Sutton said.