Unpacking a box of bananas from Ecuador, staff at a North Canterbury supermarket were given a fright when they spotted a snake.
A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesperson said they were notified of the find at Rangiora New World in May.
A snake specialist at MPI identified the 20.7cm snake as a juvenile Leptodeira ornate, commonly known as an ornate cat-eyed snake, which was found dead. The mildly venomous rear-fanged snake was not known to be dangerous to humans but could give a painful bite if provoked.
Four to eight snakes are detected at the New Zealand border each year, while a further one or two are found beyond the border. The spokesperson for MPI noted that most arrived dead.
“Our biosecurity system has proven very effective to date in preventing a snake population from establishing in New Zealand,” she said.
Anyone who spots what could be an unwanted pest or disease is encouraged to report the sighting to MPI by calling 0800 80 99 66.