Training pays off for MPI snake handler

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A Ministry for Primary Industries inspector was able to put his snake training to good use when a slithery Aussie hitchhiker arrived in Dunedin in a container of personal effects.

The inspector, who had only just completed training in Adelaide, found a snake tangled in wire mesh when the container from Brisbane was being de-contaminated at a secure quarantine facility.

The container was full of food scraps and had been packed without any consideration of New Zealand’s biosecurity requirements, says Craig Jorgensen, Team Leader South, Border Clearance Services Directorate.

The snake was dead, and appeared to have been making a bid for freedom when it got caught in the mesh.

“Netting is ideal for catching snakes, as they easily get tangled,” says Mr Jorgensen.

The snake has yet to be formally identified, but is believed to be a non-venomous carpet python.

He says the Ministry for Primary Industries has a team of highly trained dog teams and inspection staff ready to respond to any snake incursion.

“New Zealand is relatively free from venomous pests. We want to keep it that way.”

MPI has intercepted more than 60 snakes in shipping containers and other cargo since 2000.

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