Snake hitches ride in man’s backpack

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 18 June 2019

A 20-year-old man got a fright when he arrived at his holiday rental in the Pukalani district of Maui, Hawaii, put his backpack down and saw a snake slither out of it.

The man from Virginia had flown from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Hawaii and the slithery creature had been concealed in his bag all the way.

When he discovered the juvenile snake he informed the owner of the holiday rental, who told him it is illegal to have snakes in Hawaii.

According to the Department of Agriculture on the islands, ‘The owner of the rental informed the visitor and others staying in the rental that snakes are illegal in Hawaii and they reported it to Maui police’.

Police contacted Dr. Fern Duvall from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) who kept the snake and delivered it to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) the next morning. Dr. Duvall said the snake ‘will be transported to Honolulu’.

It’s lucky the owner of the backpack reported the incident, as owning or knowingly transporting illegal pets in Hawaii State is a Class C felony, punishable with a $200,000 (just under R3-million) fine and up to three years in prison.

The reptile in question was identified as a non-venomous southern black racer snake.

Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and are a threat to the island’s environment. They often prey on birds and their eggs, so would increase the threat to already endangered native birds on Maui.

‘Be informed about the very special place you live that is Hawaii’, said Dr. Duvall. ‘We should pay attention to what plants and animals we see – report things you feel are new to you as prevention is so much more important than having to react to established foreign pests out of control.’


Image: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

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