Venomous Snake Found in Box of Bananas at Supermarket

Supermarket workers in a New Zealand town discovered a dead snake inside of a box of bananas when they opened up a crate from Ecuador.

The workers at the Rangiora New World supermarket, located in Rangiora in the region of Canterbury, New Zealand, found the dead snake in a box of bananas that had been transported from Ecuador on May 10, and informed the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) about the discovery.

A snake specialist at the MPI later formally identified the reptile that was 20.7 centimeters in length as a juvenile Leptodeira ornate, also known as an ornate cat-eyed snake, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The snake is generally found in South America and is not native to New Zealand. Although the rear-fanged snake is mildly venomous and could inflict pain on a human if it bites, it is not generally considered dangerous.

A spokesperson for the MPI told Newshub that officials take the threat of new species of animals in the country seriously, and have systems in place to be able to stop animals naturalizing in the country.

"Biosecurity New Zealand takes the threat of snakes establishing in New Zealand very seriously. This is why we have a multi-layered biosecurity system that involves strict import requirements, checks at the border and surveillance," the spokesperson said. "It is also why we have trained personnel to handle detections safely and effectively."

They confirmed that although the snake was transported to New Zealand in the box, it would have been unable to survive the country's winter temperatures and would not have naturalized if it had survived the journey.

Around one or two snakes that are not naturalized in New Zealand find their way into the country each year, while an average of eight are found at the border during security checks, according to the Herald.

In April, Newshub reported statistics from the MPI that revealed that 59 snakes not native to New Zealand have been found in the country over the last 10 years.

The outlet reported that 29 of those snakes were found at the border, with five of them still alive, while 30 were discovered once in the country, but only five were still breathing when captured by officials.

The snake discovered on May 10 was not the first seen in New Zealand this year, as a carpet python was found dead in a pipe at a construction site in south Auckland in March, after being transported to the country in goods imported from Australia.

Newsweek has contacted the MPI and Rangiora New World for comment on the find.

Snake found in banana box
File photo of an Ornate Cat-eyed Snake. Supermarket workers in a town in New Zealand discovered a dead snake inside of a box of bananas when they opened up a crate from Ecuador. iStock / Getty Images Plus/Leeman