Workers at a Rangiora supermarket were quite startled to find a snake in a box of bananas from Ecuador. A snake specialist formally identified the 20.7cm reptile as a juvenile Leptodeira ornate, commonly known as an ornate cat-eyed snake, found in South America.
A Leptodeira ornata is a mildly venomous rear-fanged snake that can inflict a painful bite, but it is not regarded as dangerous to humans. It's also a strictly tropical species that would not be able to survive a New Zealand winter and could not naturalise here.
One or two snakes are found past the border- dead and alive - around New Zealand each year. A further four to eight are caught at the border. They are normally not venomous and mostly arrive dead, because of the treatment of imported cargo.