A New Species of Snake Found in Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos

The first recording case of a snake being introduced to the islands.

Galapagos Snake

Now we have a new member at the Galapagos National Park. We are talking about a false coral snake, possibly a scarlet king snake. Galapagos residents had found this unique species near the highland town of Santa Rosa, while running over it on the road in Santa Cruz. This is the first recording case of a snake being introduced to the islands. The people who hit the reptile realized it was unusual and then took it to the authorities.

The king snake is native to the eastern and southeastern United States and its importation into the Galápagos is illegal. According to the government statement, this would be the first case of a snake being brought into the islands.

The snake found on Santa Cruz has red touching black on its skin — meaning it’s non-poisonous. But officials on the island don’t regard it as any sort of friend or a Galapagos Snake.

After investigations, a reptile specialist from the University San Francisco in Quito indicated it was an Ecuadorian milk snake native to mainland Ecuador. They are still analyzing if this species was actually introduced in the Islands.

However, it is unlikely that, park rangers and scientists from Santa Cruz, an island with a population over 15,000, would have missed a species like that. If the genetic analysis of this specimen shows no sign of divergence from the mainland then we can say it belongs to Galapagos, or on the other hand, it could be a natural colonization of the islands. Unfortunately there is no way to distinguish between a recent colonization event and a human-mediated introduction.

Galapagos Snake

The possible presence of more specimens in the site is one of the main concerns in the National Park. Officials at the Park stated that it looks like a deadly coral snake, but it isn’t. There are four varieties of terrestrial snakes native to the Galapagos but this specific species is not one of them.

Park officials, constantly on the lookout for invasive plants and animals, is carrying out an intensive search where the snake was discovered to determine if there are others on Santa Cruz Island.

Some people believe that the Galapagos, due to their tropical location, are islands that stay the same but this is not true. The Islands are an exotic destination where wildlife is never the same. Nothing can compare to the pleasure of observing its constant evolution.

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