Why Four Recent Hawaii Snake Findings Are Concerning

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.

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11 thoughts on “Why Four Recent Hawaii Snake Findings Are Concerning”

  1. People can be selfish. Just as I would not expect my brother to host me when his house burned in the continental USA, I would not expect to have a fun vacation when all of Lahaina has charred to the ground.
    Speaking of costs, I was disappointed that the sugar manufacturing factory in Maui is a museum and more than 1000 employees are out of jobs. What has the USA done to rejuvenate the economy pre or post Maui Fire?? If I make a trip again, I would make it as a volunteer instead of complaining about prices, I would like to know what all the complaining people have done for the people of Lahaina? In life, its nice to get but its much nicer to give.
    The hotels have to give these people rooms, they are homeless, they cannot go elsewhere.

  2. It is so disturbing to hear of the intrusion of the snakes. The invasion of so many rude and uneducated tourists are ruining the islands. I wish that the higher ups would quit worrying about offending others, and make some rules for All Pets. The cats and dogs are all being invited in. There is a girl on social media that encourages adopting the cats and taking back to Mainland. Individuals should be encouraged about fixing these animals. People should be encouraged about fixing themselves. The disrespectable people are all raised as non respecting individuals and it is these people who do not comply that are destroying this world!

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  3. So sorry to hear of the intrusion of the snakes that were found. It’s really something to keep your eyes on because as we know here in the states, it’s a big deal.j

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    1. Please try to think of Hawaii as one if the 50 US states. It would be better to refer to the remaining 49 states as “the mainland.” I agree with you that these snakes can develop into a real problem, as they are in so many other states.
      Thank you.

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  4. Hawaii, the one place I felt safe from snakes. I knew about the little blind snakes a few years ago when I saw them on a TV program. Harmless. But the others are disturbing. Why can’t I bring an apple or orange, (even to eat while waiting for the plane), on the plane from the mainland, but HI can import thousands of non native evergreen trees for Xmas every year? These trees can harbor disease, insects, snakes, and other species. And why aren’t there better screenings for illegal exotic snakes? They must be coming in luggage or via shipping options. Why not pay a little extra effort in finding out how they arrive, rather than confiscating my apple.

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  5. Unleash the Mongooses!!!

    At least that’s the solution to no snakes in Hawai’i that I was told since the ’50s while livin’ and breathin’ in da’ Territory … (smiles)

    I’ve had to catch and eat a couple of snakes in various USN survival schools about a hundred years ago — Florida and the Philippines — they tasted like chicken. Personally, I’d rather have Mom’s chicken …

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  6. Thank goodness the HDOA are so vigilant about this issue along with Hawaiian residents. Snakes don’t have a natural predator in Hawaii. I was reading the snakes the infested Guam and Saipan was introduced to cull the birds and bow the birds are endangered. Florida didn’t have Burmes constrictor pythons until hurricane Andrew and all of those pythons escaped the pet shops and exotic pet collectors.

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    1. Having lived on Oahu for many years, I took a 3 month trip to Guam. It was absolutely drowning in brown tree snakes. There were no birds at all. It was incredibly sad and the amount of tree snakes we saw while hiking made the whole experience surreal. Hawaii absolutely must not not allow snakes to gain a foothold. Paradise will be lost.

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