Biosecurity officials have snared a live snake that hitchhiked to New Zealand on a private jet.
The snake was spotted on the tarmac at Auckland Airport yesterday. It was initially contained with a bucket by airport staff.
"A Ministry for Primary Industries snake handler was quickly on the scene and managed to capture the unwanted stowaway," says Craig Hughes, MPI Manager North Passenger.
The snake has yet to be identified, although it is likely to be a brown tree snake. This species is not regarded as particularly dangerous to humans, but could severely harm New Zealand’s native bird population, says Mr Hughes.
"It appears the snake had crawled into the wheel housing of a private jet that arrived from Brisbane," he says.
The aircraft had been parked in a remote bay in Brisbane for six weeks before coming to New Zealand.
He says MPI staff searched the plane and tarmac area, but found no sign of any other snakes.
"This is clearly a one-off hitchhiker."
He says the snake was in a poor condition when captured, but still alive. It is likely to be euthanised after consultation with the Department of Conservation.
"We don’t have a snake population in New Zealand. Biosecurity officials are doing their best to make sure it stays that way," says Mr Hughes.