Habu snake caught on Miyako Island for the first time

Habu snake caught on Miyako Island for the first time

Sakishima-habu caught on Miyako-jima (photograph provided by the Miyako Public Health Center).

April 24, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 23, the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) announced that a venomous snake of the Sakishima-habu variety was caught on Miyako-jima. According to the OPG, this is the first time that such a snake has been caught in Miyako, which is known as an island that does not have habu. The Pharmaceutical Affairs and Disease Control Division of the OPG warns people not to approach a snake if they ever come across one and instead to contact the police to ask them to catch it. The authorities also request that residents seek medical attention immediately if they are bitten by a snake. The Miyako Public Health Center has several antitoxins available in the Prefectural Miyako Hospital to use in the case of habu bites.

The Sakishima-habu that was caught is a male, 44 centimeters long and weighing 16 grams. Judging from its size it is a young snake, between six and eighteen months old. It is unknown whether the snake was born on the island or if someone brought it there from outside Miyako-jima. On April 19, during his lunch break, a resident found the snake at the park in the urban district near Hirara Port. He grabbed it with his bare hands, put it into a plastic bottle and delivered to the Miyako Public Health Center.

According to the National Institute for Environmental Studies, Sakishima-habu mainly inhabit Iriomote, Kohama, Taketomi, Kuroshima and Ishigaki in the Yaeyama Islands. They are also found in the southern part of Itoman on the main island of Okinawa. There have also been cases in which they have been caught in Tamagusuku in Nanjo, as well as in Naha and Nago.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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