A live boa constrictor was captured on a cargo ship at Honolulu Harbor over the weekend, the state Department of Agriculture said in a news release today.
Agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Saturday told the agricultural department about the snake, which “was moving freely on the deck of a cargo ship” as it was headed to Honolulu.
Agricultural inspectors from the DOA’s Plant Quarantine Branch were dispatched to Pier 31 and, once on the ship, found the snake in a hole on the deck floor.
The juvenile boa constrictor is about 18 inches in length and is being held by the PQB.
Boa constrictors are native to Central and South America and can grow to be 12 feet in length. Snakes and large reptiles have no natural predators in Hawaii and compete with native animal populations for food and habitat, making them a threat to Hawaii’s ecosystem, the DOA said. Many species prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds.
It is illegal to transport and possess snakes in Hawaii. Under the Amnesty Program, illegal animals may be turned in at any DOA office, municipal zoo, aquarium or the Humane Society. If done so prior to the start of an investigation, no criminal charges or fines will be assessed.
Those possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony, face fines of up to $200,000, and spend three years in prison. Those with information about illegal animals are asked to call the state’s “pest hotline” at 808-643-7378.