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Snake population increasing In northern Okinawa areas

Date Posted: 2004-10-07

Be careful.

That’s the advice from Masahike Nishimura, who’s warning that the Taiwan Habu snake presence is increasing around Nago City. He issued the caution last week. “It’s increasing around Nago,” he said. “The Taiwan Habu has stronger poison than normal Okinawa Habu snakes, and they’re bigger.”

In the past year, prefecture environmental specialists trapped the snake at Nago, but now say there are more slithering around. Officials suspect the Taiwan Habu may be migrating southward toward Central Okinawa as well. The Taiwan Habu originally came from Taiwan and China. It is very quick and agile, and very aggressive, officials say.

It’s believed to have come to Okinawa nearly 35 years ago inside a tourist’s baggage. The snakes were first believed to be a major problem in 1996, and has been growing since. Officials say they’re capturing three times as many snakes now as only a couple years ago. The Taiwan Habu is normally found in mountainous, brushy or forested regions.

Now, for unknown reasons, officials say the snakes are coming more to residential areas, and onto roadways. And that, they say, makes it more likely the snakes will expand their presence across much of Okinawa island.

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