Nine-Foot Snake Turned in Under Amnesty

Posted on Jun 10, 2010 in 2010 News Releases, News-Releases

NR10-08 – June 10, 2010

HONOLULU –  A snake measuring nine feet was turned in to officials over the weekend by a Waianae resident who was keeping it in his garage. The snake has been identified as a non-venomous reticulated python and is being safeguarded at the Plant Quarantine Branch of the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA). Because the snake was turned in under the state’s amnesty law, the owner will not face prosecution or fines for possession of an illegal animal.

The snake’s owner initially contacted the Honolulu Zoo to donate the snake. Reptile handlers from the zoo and two HDOA inspectors went to the home on Saturday (June 5th) where inspectors took custody of the snake.  The Honolulu Zoo is allowed to keep only two non-venomous male snakes under permit from HDOA.  However, this snake was later confirmed to be a female so it will be shipped out to a reptile farm on the Mainland.

The state provides amnesty to encourage those who have illegal animals to turn them in rather than set them loose into the environment.  Snakes are illegal in Hawai`i because there are no natural predators here and they pose a serious threat to Hawai`i’s environment.  Many species, like pythons, prey on birds and their eggs, thus increasing the threat to endangered native birds.  Large snakes can also be a danger to larger mammals, including household pets, small farm animals and humans.

“Preventing the introduction and establishment of snakes in Hawai`i is our top priority,” said Domingo Cravalho, Jr., Inspection and Compliance Section Chief for HDOA. “People may think these are pets, but the damage snakes could do in Hawai`i is irreversible.  We need everyone’s help to protect Hawai`i.”

Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, municipal zoo or any Humane Society, no questions asked.  If caught, 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-freePEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

Reticulated pythons are native to Southeast Asia, Philippines and Indonesia.  When full grown, reticulated pythons grow to about 10- to 20-feet long, but have been known to grow longer than 25 and 30 feet and weigh in excess of 250 lbs.  It is considered one of the longest snakes in the world.  Pythons are constrictors, which coil around and squeezes to suffocate its prey.