News Release: March 27, 2003

Posted on Mar 27, 2003 in 2003 News Releases, News-Releases

For Immediate Release: March 27, 2003 NR03-10


HONOLULU – A four-foot-long gopher snake, Pituophis catenifer, was found on Kauai on the morning of Monday, March 24, near the access road to WalMart and bagged by a passerby. The person turned it in to Kauai police officers responding to a report of a snake sighting. The snake had apparently been run over by a car and was still alive when it was handed over to an agriculture inspector on Kauai; but it has since died.

Snakes are illegal in Hawaii. 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.

In a separate incident on Saturday, March 22, Aloha Airlines personnel captured a four-inch lizard in the forward cabin of an Aloha Airlines jet that arrived from Santa Ana, California. The lizard was later identified as a western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis, which are more commonly called “Blue-bellies” or “Swifts.”

Western fence lizards may grow up to six inches in length, with coloration ranging from light gray to black with dark blotches along the back. Males of the species have bright blue to green bellies. They are found in Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Southern California. Its diet consists of insects and various other arthropods.

A photo opportunity for the snake and the lizard is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. this afternoon at the Plant Quarantine Branch at 1849 Auiki Street (near Sand Island).

Persons possessing illegal animals are subject to stiff penalties, including fines of up to $200,000 and up to three years in jail. Individuals with illegal pets are encouraged to voluntarily turn them in under the department’s Amnesty Program, which offers immunity from prosecution. Anyone with information or knowledge of illegal animals in Hawaii is asked to call the department’s PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST(7378).

For more information, contact:

Janelle Saneishi
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Phone: (808) 973-9560