A live boa constrictor was captured aboard a cargo ship in Honolulu Harbor over the weekend, agricultural officials report.
US Customs and Border Protection agents contacted the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture on Saturday morning, and reported that a snake was moving freely on the deck of a cargo ship which was still enroute to Honolulu Harbor.
Agricultural inspectors from HDOA’s Plant Quarantine Branch were dispatched to Pier 31, and after boarding the ship, found the snake in a hole on the deck floor. Inspectors extracted the snake which remains safeguarded at the PQB. The juvenile boa constrictor measured about a foot-and-a-half long.
Boa constrictors are non-venomous and are native to Central and South America. They can grow up to 12 feet in length and have a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats. Snakes and large reptiles have no natural predators in Hawai‘i and pose a serious threat to Hawai‘i’s unique ecosystem as they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat, according to department officials. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native birds. Large snakes may also be a threat to humans and small pets.
Snakes are illegal to transport and possess in Hawai‘i. Under the Amnesty Program, illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA office, any municipal zoo or aquarium, or the Humane Society. If illegal animals are turned in prior to the start of an investigation there will be no criminal charges or fines assessed.
Individuals possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony, face fines of up to $200,000, and three years in prison. Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).