Snakes Are Illegal In New Zealand

By Jeff Kelly on Wednesday, October 9, 2013
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“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?” —Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

In A Nutshell

Snakes are a pretty common animal in virtually every part of the world. They’re creepy and they can be dangerous, but they aren’t particularly out of the ordinary. That is, of course, everywhere except New Zealand. In the land of hobbits, believe it or not, snakes simply do not exist. In fact, even owning a snake in New Zealand can open a person up to prosecution.

The Whole Bushel

If you are anything like us, or God willing, Indiana Jones, you hate snakes. They are gross, creepy, vile creatures according to pretty much everyone other than the late Steve Irwin. What you probably did not realize is that if you ever want to avoid running into a snake, just about the only place in the world you can go is beautiful New Zealand.

That’s because in New Zealand, snakes are actually considered a prohibited organism (it’s illegal for them to just exist). That means not only will you never find one out in the wild (if you do, it will be dealt with mercilessly), but it’s illegal to own one as a pet. Snakes are not even allowed in New Zealand zoos, research facilities, or anywhere else. We aren’t talking about a little slap on the wrist for owning a snake, either. Just ask Nathan Bush.

In 2011, Bush bought a pet snake and when it was discovered, he was taken to court and sentenced to four months in prison. That’s how seriously New Zealand takes its anti-snake stance. In fact, if a resident of New Zealand even becomes aware of the existence of a snake, he or she is required by law to report the animal to authorities to be dealt with in order to keep the nation completely snake-free.

Well, at least the actual, physical landmass of New Zealand is free of snakes. Obviously, it’s a little more difficult to regulate serpents of the ocean, but land snakes are kept out of the country largely because none are native to the islands that make it up.

New Zealand is known for a great many things, including being the land of hobbits, but it turns out that if tourists decide to take a vacation there, they really are more likely to come across Gollum hissing than an actual snake, which is pretty remarkable considering the country’s neighbor to the south, Australia, is infamous for being home to some of the most dangerous snakes the world has ever seen.

New Zealand is one of the very few snake-free zones in the entire world, joining the elite company of Greenland, Antarctica, and parts of Hawaii. You know, just in case you were trying to plan your next vacation and wanted to avoid being sufficiently creeped out by the wildlife.

Show Me The Proof

New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries: Snakes don’t belong in New Zealand
Tourism New Zealand: No Snakes Here, Mate! Just Crazy Keas and Bubbling Mud
Discovery: Snakes in New Zealand