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Snakehead mystery solved

DATE 20 December 2006

Snakehead mystery solved

Further details of the snakehead found in a gutter in a Napier street on Monday night have come to light today.

A call from a resident of the street to MAF’s 0800 number has revealed that the head was a trophy mounted in a glass sphere in the possession of her husband for a number of years before it was discarded at the weekend. MAF is satisfied there is no biosecurity risk and will not be taking further action. The snakehead will not be returned.

Examination by a herpetologist has confirmed the snake head had been preserved and mounted. It most likely a pit viper, of which there are hundreds of species, mostly in Asia and China. Without further information and more of the snake, further identification is unlikely. The head had the teeth removed, presumably to make it less hazardous, and had been positioned and preserved in a striking pose.

Although it is illegal to bring snakes or parts of them into New Zealand, the snakehead may have been imported before the Biosecurity Act 1993 came into effect.

ENDS

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