A live ball python snake was captured early Monday in Hilo by an American Medical Response ambulance crew.
The snake, measuring about 4 feet long and weighing about 3 pounds, was found near the Old Airport Road and taken to Hawaii Police Department, according to the state Department of Agriculture. The police then contacted a state plant quarantine inspector.
The snake is currently being safeguarded at the Hilo Plant Quarantine Office, according to the Department of Agriculture. Staff at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo determined that the snake is a sexually immature female ball python.
On June 27, inspectors were informed of a Facebook post with a photo of a snake in that area. Quarantine inspectors conducted nightly searches through last week and also deployed traps, but were not able to find the snake.
The captured snake appears to be consistent with the photo that was posted on Facebook, the department said.
In the past year, the department said two other ball pythons have been captured in Hilo. The first was a 3-foot snake in October 2019 captured near Old Airport Road after a resident ran it over and the second was a 4.5-foot snake found at the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill by Hawaii County workers.
Ball pythons are nonvenomous and may grow up to 6 feet in length, according to the department. They are common in the pet trade on the mainland 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 have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. Many species, such as the ball python, prey on birds and bird eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native bird species. Large snakes may also be a threat to the health and safety of humans, pets and other domestic animals, according to the department.
Snakes are illegal to import and/or possess in Hawaii. Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the amnesty program. If illegal animals are turned in prior to the start of an investigation, no criminal charges or civil penalties will be pursued. Any illegal animal may be dropped off at any Department of Agriculture Office, local Humane Society or at municipal zoos. Animals turned in under amnesty will not be euthanized.
Individuals possessing illegal animals may be charged with a Class C felony, issued fines of up to $200,000 and may be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s pest hotline at 643-PEST (7378).