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Foreign habu shifting its habitat to the south

Date Posted: 2006-03-03

The Taiwan habu has been a fixture in northern Okinawa, but now seems to be slithering south.

The poisonous snake has long been in the Nago City area and points north. That changed a week ago, when the Taiwan habu was found mixed in with sugar cane at a factory in Uruma City. It was the first time the snake was observed in the south.

The Taiwan habu has a strong poisonous venom, posing a threat to workers harvesting the sugar cane. The Prefecture Environmental Office is now involved, trying to determine how extensive the problem could be. For now, they’re warning farmers to exercise caution when in the fields with the cane.

There is a chance the snake may not have actually migrated south. Officials say some sugar cane grown in the north is transported by truck to the factory in Uruma City. “If the habu has moved alive to the south with the cane, and then escaped, it poses a big problem,” said an official. “The Taiwan habu will be spreading quickly to all Okinawa.”

The habu migrated to Okinawa from Taiwan and China decades ago. Officials say its poison is far stronger than that of its Okinawan habu relatives.

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