Wingate: Snake Population Could Be Disastrous

May 22, 2013

The accidental or illegal introduction of a breeding population of snakes to Bermuda could have disastrous consequences for the island’s eco-system, former Government conservation officer Dr. David Wingate told Bernews this week [May 22].

Dr. Wingate was speaking after last week’s incident when a three-foot Southern Black Racer or similar species was discovered on the Tucker’s Point golf course.

Found near a pond by the clubhouse, the snake was removed to the Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo where it was euthanised.

Common in the southeastern United States from Maine to the Florida Keys, the Southern Black Racer preys on lizards, insects, moles, birds, eggs, small snakes, rodents and frogs.

“There have been several recorded incidents of snakes intercepted in the wild on Bermuda, but this is the first record of a Black Racer,” said Dr. Wingate. “Most previous records have been of the common garter snake of eastern US.”

The internationally renowned Bermudian naturalist and conservationist said most garter snakes are believed to have come into the island accidentally in in tourists’ golf bags.

“Snakes will sometimes hibernate in golf bags stored in basements and only revive when the unsuspecting golfer brings the bag to our warm tropical climate,” said Dr. Wingate. “Other illegal ways they get here are by deliberate importation as pets.

“Children at summer camps in US have been known to sneak them in in their luggage and some snake enthusiasts have done this on a larger scale, deliberately evading the law.”

Dr. Wingate said illegally imported large boa constrictors have occasionally escaped from captivity in Bermuda and been intercepted.

“We have been lucky so far that none of the escapes have become established as breeders,” he said.

Dr. Wingate said permits are required for any animal importation locally precisely to protect “our vulnerable oceanic island heritage and snakes are on a stop list because their establishment on Bermuda could be disastrous to our nesting seabirds in particular and once established probably impossible to eradicate.”

He concluded: “People should be made aware of this and fines for non-compliance should be extremely high because of the usually non-reversible nature of introduced invasives.”

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Category: All, Environment, News

Comments (6)

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  1. Loquatz says:

    I hate snakes.

  2. Joe says:

    Muthaf***** snakes on the muthaf***** plane!

  3. Confused..... says:

    Well Said. So how did bringing the herons to Bermuda benefit our ecosystem. I was told they were introduced to curb the crab population. (I did not know they were a problem). But since the arrival of the herons the crabs have been wiped out. When was the last time you saw a crab on south shore. Now they are killing lizards which keep the cockroaches at bay. Doesnt this stuff get pass by Dr Wingate first?

    • no words says:

      The crabs also got run over quite often killing off many of them along south shore when they’d climb up the rocks and across the road to bury

    • Raymond Ray says:

      I agree with you “Confused”…Will we see the elimination of herons and other unnatural birds of the Island removed so we may once again enjoy viewing the annual migrating walk across the South Shore rocks and road ways ? Of course the birds look wonderful but, (the operative word)they are destroying far-more :-(

  4. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    we have enuff snakes already in Bermy.