PUKALANI, Hawaii (KHON2) — Snakes are not indigenous to Hawaiʻi. Any snakes that are found have been brought here by folks who have ignored Hawaiʻi’s ban on them or because they were stowaways on transport via sea or air.
On Monday, May 15, one was found on Maui.
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According to reports from the Department of Agriculture, the live snake was found on the side of the road near the Pukalani Golf Club.
A resident is the one who reported the snake to the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture. According to the witness, they saw the snake while a group of children were playing with it at around 3 p.m.
Agricultural inspectors from the Maui Plant Quarantine Branch were immediately dispatched and found the snake had been quarantined inside a plastic rubbish bin. They said that the snake measured 3½ feet long and that it has been tentatively identified as a non-venomous, female gopher snake.
DOA said that the Maui Police Department were also involved with the response. They assisted inspectors to secure the snake.
In order to ensure that no other snakes were in the area, DOA said that inspectors surveyed the immediate area; and they did not find any indication that there are more snakes.
“Snakes are illegal in Hawai`i. Gopher snakes are found in North America and can grow up to about seven feet,” said a representative from DOA. “Its diet consists of small rodents, young rabbits, lizards, birds and their eggs. Prey is killed by constriction and suffocation.”
Residents are advised that snakes and other large reptiles have no natural predators in Hawai`i. It is because of the lack of predators that they pose such a danger to Hawaiʻi’s unique ecosystem.
“They compete with native animal populations for food and habitat,” explained a representative from DOA. “Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native birds.”
It is also known that snakes can be dangerous for humans and small pets alike. DOA said that if you see a snake, then treat it as if it is venomous. You are asked not to handle the snake, but it is important that you keep a visual record of where it is so that DOA personnel can locate it.
As soon as you see one, report it immediately to the State’s toll-free Pest Hotline at (808) 643-PEST (7378).
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It is advised to always keep a safe distance from a snake and cover it with a bucket or something large, if possible, said DOA. This will quarantine it until investigators can look into where it has come from and whether there are more in the vicinity.
The snake was transported to the Plant Quarantine Office and was humanely euthanized.