Snake and Piranhas Found at Alewa Fire Scene

Posted on Feb 25, 2011 in 2011 News Releases, News-Releases

NR11-07 – February 25, 2011

HONOLULU – A snake and four piranhas were found in a home that was damaged in a fire in Alewa Heights yesterday.  Details have not been confirmed at this time, but officials at the scene called the Hawaiian Humane Society, which took possession of the illegal reptile and fishes last night. Plant Quarantine inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture picked up the animals this morning. Ag inspectors also went to the home this morning as part of their investigation into the incident.

The snake has been identified as a boa constrictor and is approximately five feet in length. The four adult-size piranhas measure approximately five inches long.

Boa constrictors are non-venomous and are native to Central and South America and are common in the pet trade outside of Hawaii.  They can grow up to 12 feet in length and have a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats.  Snakes have no natural predators in Hawai`i and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’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.

Piranhas are freshwater fish native to South America.  They also may be found all over the U.S. and Europe, presumably released from aquariums.  Known for their razor-like teeth, their diet consists of insects, worms and other fish, but are also known to eat carcasses and vegetation.  Piranhas may grow up to 12 inches in length.

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.  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, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.  Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).