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Ambulance Crew Finds Live Ball Python in Hilo

July 7, 2020, 5:20 PM HST
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A Ball Python snake was located in Hilo on Monday, July 6, 2020. PC: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

An American Medical Response ambulance crew located a ball python snake in Hilo on the morning of Monday, July 6.

The snake, measuring about four feet in length and weighing about three pounds, was found near the Old Airport Road and taken to Hawai‘i County police, according to a state Department of Agriculture (HDOA) press release.

The police then contacted a plant quarantine inspector with the HDOA at about 2 a.m. The snake is currently being safeguarded at the Hilo Plant Quarantine Office, the release said. Staff at the Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo determined that the snake is a sexually immature female ball python.

On June 27, HDOA 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 release said.

In October 2019, a three-foot-long ball python was captured by a resident who ran over it near the same area.

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In June 2018, a 4.5-foot-long ball python was found at the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill by county workers.

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Ball pythons are non-venomous and may grow up to six feet in length. 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 Hawai`i and pose a serious threat to Hawai`i’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.

Snakes are illegal to import and/or possess in Hawai`i. 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 HDOA Office, local Humane Society, or at municipal zoos. Animals turned in under amnesty will not be euthanized.

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Individuals possessing illegal animals may be charged with a Class C felony, issued fines of up to $200,000, and can be sentenced to up to five 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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