Snake has Galapagos worried

by Jan Ligthart

SANTA CRUZ, 24 February 2014 - A false coral snake that was found on the central Galapagos island of Santa Cruz, has a lot of people worried. The locals who ran over the snake with their car were aware that it was an unusual species and took it to the local authorities. Since then a lot of debate has sprung up among scientists, environmentalists and snake experts. Chances are that the snake was brought to the island by humans. This raises a lot of concern since the archipelago is one of the most pristine ecological regions in the world. An introduced species can seriously harm the unique local fauna and flora on and around the islands.

Native

The Galapagos islands are home to four snake species, but the snake that was found this week is not one of them. Debate is still going whether this false coral snake is a scarlet king snake, or an Ecuadorian milk snake. Not that it really matters: both subspecies have never been seen before on the Galapagos Islands. According to experts it is possible that the snake found its way to Santa Cruz without on its own. But not very likely: false coral snakes are held as pets in some parts of the world. They are nonvenomous and generally prey on small snakes and lizards.

The Galapagos National Park and the agency for biosecurity in Galapagos are now going through the area were the snake was found to see if there are any more specimens around.