The capture of a live boa constrictor and a gopher snake – one on Maui last month and the other on board a ship in Honolulu Harbor over the weekend, are concerning. This brings the total to four recent snake findings this year.
A Boa constrictor captured at Honolulu Harbor.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that “A live boa constrictor was captured aboard a cargo ship in Honolulu Harbor… [The] snake was moving freely on the deck of a cargo ship which was still en route to Honolulu Harbor.”
Agricultural inspectors were dispatched and, upon boarding the ship, located the snake and removed it. “The juvenile boa constrictor measured about a foot-and-a-half long,” according to the USDA.
Boa constrictors are non-venomous, native to Central and South America, and can grow up to 12 feet long. Their diet usually consists of rats and mice.
The problem with these snakes in Hawaii.
USDA said snakes “and large reptiles have no natural predators in Hawai‘i and “pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s unique ecosystem as they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native birds. Large snakes may also be a threat to humans and small pets.”
Snakes are illegal both to possess and to transport to and within Hawaii. The penalty for illegal possession is a felony with fines of up to $200,000 and up to 3 years imprisonment.
Are there snakes in Hawaii?
Great question, and we’ve got the answer that may surprise you. Read Are There Snakes In Hawaii?
Snake was found at Home Depot on Oahu last month.
In July, the Honolulu Police Department captured a live juvenile gopher snake at the Home Depot store in Kapolei. It was found in the pallet of a shipping container and reported via a 911 call by employees after the store had closed.
That snake was 21 inches long and a non-venomous juvenile gopher snake. USDA said, “Gopher snakes are found in North America and can grow up to about seven feet. Their diet consists of small rodents, young rabbits, lizards, birds, and their eggs. Prey is killed by constriction and suffocation.”
Agriculture inspectors from Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) Plant Quarantine Branch also went to the store to survey the area and informed the store to contact HDOA if they spot any other hitchhiking animals.
A Snake on Maui was Found in May.
This one was over three feet long and near the Pukalani Golf Club. Children were seen playing with it prior to the report. It was also a non-venomous female gopher snake.
Python was found on Oahu in January.
The Honolulu Zoo received a 2½-foot Ball Python. These are pet snakes on the mainland. It was turned into them by a resident who found it on the side of the road. The Zoo reported it to HDOA.
Hawaii has an Amnesty Program – No questions asked.
While possessing a snake in Hawaii is a felony with a $200,000 fine, this amnesty program is a way to make sure all snakes are reported without pentaly or questions asked. They can be turned in to any HDOA office, Honolulu Zoo, Panaewa Zoo on Hawai`i Island, or any Humane Society.
Anyone with information about illegal animals should call the statewide toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378). Sightings or captures of illegal animals or invasive species should also be reported to the hotline.