Kekaha man finds snake

The 1 1/2-foot-long snake turned in to the Kaua’i Humane Society last Sunday by a Kekaha man is still being held by the state Department of Agriculture in Honolulu until it is shipped to a Florida reptile farm.

The man told Kauai Humane Society staff that he found the snake in his backyard, but declined to identify himself. The Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine amnesty program allows people to turn in illegal animals with no penalty.

The coastal rosy boa, or Lichanura trivirgata, preys on small mammals and birds and kills them by constriction. The snake is one of two boas native to the United States, and is not venomous. The snake’s adult size is 2-4 feet.

The rosy boa is native to Baja California, southwestern Arizona and Baja Mexico, and lives in rocky areas, ravines and brushlands. Its scales can be gray, tan or cream-colored with pink, brown or reddish stripes along the length of its body.

All the Humane Societies in the islands have a partnership with the Plant Quarantine division’s amnesty program. On Sundays, the Kauai Humane Society is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., which is when the snake was turned in.

Inspectors from the state Department of Agriculture picked up the snake from the Kaua’i Humane Society Monday morning and transported it to O’ahu. The snake and other illegal reptiles being housed in Honolulu will be shipped to a reptile facility in Florida under an agreement with the Honolulu Zoo, which gets animals for its reptile exhibit through that facility.

Plant Quarantine aquatic animal specialist Domingo Cravalho said that snakes can easily be smuggled into Hawaii because they don’t require specialized conditions and can stay in small spaces without food for days as long as they have water.

This was the first snake turned in to the Kaua’i Humane Society as far as the staff could remember.

“Snakes are a big fear for the bird population, and they’re easy to sneak in…they would be devastating to the environment if they got out. I’m glad that they turned it in, it was the right thing to do,” said Dr. Rebecca Rhoades, Kaua’i Humane Society director.

Animals illegal to have in Hawai’i include snakes and other reptiles including exotic lizards and geckos, chameleons, alligators, and crocodiles. Some fish such as piranha and exotic marine fish like lionfish and turkey fish are also illegal.

Under Hawai’i state law, a person caught with an illegal animal could be imprisoned for up to three years and be fined up to $200,000.

People with information about illegal animals in Hawai’i should call the state’s PEST hotline by dialing 274-3141, ext. 6-PEST (7378), or the Kaua’i office at 274-3071.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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