A live ball python was turned in to the Honolulu Zoo yesterday afternoon under the state’s Amnesty Program. The snake was dropped off by a person who requested to remain anonymous and only indicated that the snake was found in Kahalu`u.
Honolulu Zoo personnel identified the snake as a non-venomous ball python and contacted the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA). Agricultural inspectors from the Plant Quarantine Branch (PQB) were immediately dispatched and took custody of the snake which measures about 28 inches long. The sex of the snake has yet not been determined and it is currently being safeguarded at the PQB.
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 Hawaiian Humane Society. If illegal animals are turned in prior to the start of an investigation, no criminal charges or fines will be assessed.
“The State offers amnesty for the voluntary surrender of illegal animals because we do not want these animals set free in the wild,” said Sharon Hurd, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “Surrendered animals will not be euthanized and may eventually be relocated to an appropriate facility on the mainland.”
Ball pythons may grow up to six feet in length. They are common in the pet trade and are native to Western and West-Central Africa. Ball pythons are constrictors that subdue prey by coiling around and suffocating it. Its diet usually consists of small mammals and birds.
Snakes and large reptiles have no natural predators in Hawai`i and pose a serious threat to the state’s unique ecosystem as they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. 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.
Anyone with information about illegal animals should call the statewide toll-free PEST HOTLINE at (808) 643-PEST (7378). Individuals possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony, face fines of up to $200,000, and three years in prison.