Hitch-hiking snake’s ride ends at Lower Hutt

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

A loose pipe under a shipping container in Lower Hutt turned out to have teeth, scales and the potential for a venomous bite, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.

An accredited biosecurity worker had started unloading the container at a MPI-approved quarantine facility at Gracefield on Tuesday when he realised what he had thought was a pipe was actually a snake – thankfully a dead one.

“The snake was jammed half way under the pallet with its mouth wide open and looking up. It attracted quite an audience before it was removed,” says Tony Owen, MPI Team Manager.

“Its head had dried up during the six to eight weeks it took for the container to get here from Thailand, but the body was fresh and felt very supple. It wasn’t a pleasant sight for anyone with a snake phobia.

“The interception demonstrates the different parts of our border biosecurity system are working well,” he says.

“MPI has trained accredited staff on the ground to recognise biosecurity threats with shipping containers and to take appropriate action. 

“In this case, the accredited person did the right thing by segregating and checking the product that was already unloaded, and then ringing MPI.”

Specialist MPI biosecurity staff checked out the site following the call. No more snakes were located.

He says MPI has a team of highly trained quarantine officers and dog teams ready to respond to any snake incursions.

“New Zealand enjoys a much envied status of being snake free.  That’s something we want to keep.”

The intercepted snake has yet to be identified.

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