The 20-year-old man only realized that the southern black racer snake was in his backpack when he arrived at a vacation rental property in Pukalani, Hawaii. According to the man, he didn’t intentionally bring the non-venomous snake, which measured about 0.3 meters long and 0.63 centimeters wide, along for the ride. In Florida, the species is common and can grow up to about two meters in length.
The snake was captured by police and personnel from the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. The reptile, which is illegal to own in Hawaii and can threaten the state’s native species due to its lack of natural predators to keep it in check, is expected to be transferred out of the volcanic archipelago soon.
Owning or purposefully transporting illegal pets is considered a felony in Hawaii and can carry penalties of up to three years in prison and a $200,000 fine. The man in this case was not charged, as he didn’t intend to bring the snake along.
— Hawaii Dept of Ag (@hdoapio) June 12, 2019
Tourists may not realize "the threat that snakes pose to our community and our unique environment," Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chair of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, recently told WJLA.
"It is fortunate that the owner of the rental was aware of the seriousness of the snake being transported to Hawaii and took appropriate action and reported it," Shimabukuro-Geiser added.
— NewsBop! (@NewsBop) June 13, 2019
“Be informed about the very special place you live that is Hawaii," ecosystem expert Dr. Fern Duvall told Hawaii News Now. “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.”