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Kingsnake turned in to Honolulu Zoo

October 3, 2019, 3:17 PM HST
* Updated October 3, 4:18 PM
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The tail-end of a California kin snake turned into the Honolulu Zoo. (PC: Hawai’i Department of Agriculture)

A live California kingsnake was turned in to the Honolulu Zoo under the state’s amnesty program at about noon on Tuesday, the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

The zoo contacted HDOA and inspectors took custody of the reptile. The nonvenomous black-and-white colored snake measured 3 1/2 feet in length and is currently being safeguarded at the Plant Quarantine Branch.

Snakes are illegal to transport and possess in Hawai‘i, the HDOA press release states. Under the Amnesty Program, illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA office, municipal zoo or aquarium, or the Humane Society. If illegal animals are turned in prior to the start of an investigation there will be no criminal charges or fines assessed.

“The State offers amnesty for the voluntary surrender of illegal animals because we do not want these animals set free in the wild,” stated Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “Surrendered animals will not be killed and will be used for educational purposes and may eventually be sent to wildlife refuges on the mainland.”

Snakes and large reptiles have no natural predators in Hawai‘i and pose a serious threat to the state’s unique ecosystem as they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat, the release states.

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It is a class C felony for possessing illegal animals and those caught could face up to $200,000 in fines and three years in prison. Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free pest hotline at 808-643-PEST (7378).

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The California kingsnake is one of the most popular snakes in the pet trade and is native to the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico. They may grow up to about 4 feet in length and are generalist predators with a diet consisting of: lizards, reptiles, birds, bird eggs, rodents and other small mammals. An albino variety has also become established in the Canary Islands and has wreaked havoc on the native ecosystem there.

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