News Release – NR08-09 – May 5, 2008

Posted on May 5, 2008 in 2008 News Releases, News-Releases

HONOLULU – An injured snake was found this morning by a Hilo resident who lives on the same block as the Hilo Office of the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA).  A female passerby who saw the snake that had been captured by the resident walked into the HDOA office and reported the snake at about 7:30 a.m.  Plant Quarantine inspectors went to the home on Lanikaula Street and found the resident and several on-lookers with the three-foot, eight-inch snake in a plastic container.  The snake, identified as a ball python, appeared to have been run over by a car and was found by the resident on the side of the road.  Due to its injuries, the snake was euthanized.

Snakes are illegal in Hawai`i and it is not known whether the snake was being kept illegally as a pet and escaped or whether it had been in the wild for a time.

“A snake found roaming free is a dangerous sign that they continue to be transported into Hawai`i,” said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture.  “Whether intentional or unintentional, the transport of snakes poses the most significant threat to our unique environment.”

Ball pythons are non-venomous and are common in the pet trade on the mainland. They are native to Western and West-Central Africa and are related to boas, which are also constrictors that subdue its prey by coiling around and suffocating it.  Its diet usually consists of small mammals and birds.  Ball pythons may grow up to six-feet long.

Snakes have no natural predators in Hawai`i and pose a serious threat to Hawai`i’s environment.  Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds.  Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.

Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.

Persons possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony and subject to fines up to $200,000 and three years in prison.  Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at643-PEST (7378).

# # #