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Snake captured in Sandys

Unwelcome visitor: a non-venomous Pueblan milk snake, similar to the one in this picture, was captured in Sandys

Conservationists have warned of the disastrous consequences snakes could have on Bermuda’s wildlife after a species of kingsnake was captured in Sandys.

The Peublan milk snake, which is a non-venomous reptile, was spotted slithering across a back yard on Monday evening by a homeowner who quickly reported the sighting.

The report prompted a fruitless search of the surrounding area by wildlife experts, however on Wednesday the snake was spotted again and captured in a bucket by a member of the public.

The latest snake capture is believed to be the third in four years and comes after a Black Racer was picked up on the Tucker’s Point golf club in 2013.

Wildlife ecologist Mark Outerbridge told The Royal Gazette that milk snakes were common pets in other parts of the world and the one found in Sandys had probably escaped from captivity.

“It is illegal to bring snakes into Bermuda either as a business or a private citizen so under these circumstances it is likely that this animal was brought into Bermuda illegally, kept as a pet and somehow escaped,” he said.

“The Black Racer found on the Tucker’s Point golf course three years ago was likely brought in accidentally in a visitor’s golf bag.

“Either way ecologically it could be disastrous for us if snakes were able to establish themselves on our island.

“Bermuda’s wildlife has been innocent of snake predation. The consequences would be like having a lionfish on land.

“Kingsnakes have a very broad diet that could include frogs, lizards, small mammals and even birds; Bermuda has an abundance of these creatures so the effects would be disastrous for some of our native wildlife.”

BAMZ staff travelled up to Sandys on Wednesday to pick up the snake, which was later humanely destroyed at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.

Dr Outerbridge praised the swift response of the community to the sighting of the reptile.

“I was very impressed with the vigilance of the local community in this case,” he said.

“They reported the sighting extremely quickly and acted in an extremely proactive fashion.”

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources recommends that if a member of the public sees a snake or any other unusual animal, the Bermuda Police Service should be called, and the BPS will in turn contact the Department’s Animal Control Section.

•For injured wildlife contact the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo at 293-2727.