Boa constrictor caught hitchhiking aboard cargo ship in Honolulu Harbor
A live boa constrictor was reported on Saturday slithering on the deck of a cargo ship bound for Honolulu Harbor.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents contacted the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture, whose inspectors from its Plant Quarantine Branch were dispatched to Pier 31.
They boarded the ship and found the juvenile snake in a hole on the deck floor.
Inspectors captured the critter, which remains safeguarded at the Plant Quarantine Branch.
Boa constrictors are non-venomous and are native to Central and South America. This juvenile snake measured about a foot-and-a-half long, but could grow up to be 12 feet in length with a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats.
Snakes and large reptiles have no natural predators in Hawai‘i and pose a serious threat to Hawai‘i’s unique ecosystem because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native birds. Large snakes also can be a threat to humans and small pets.
Snakes are illegal to transport and possess in Hawai‘i. Under the Amnesty Program, illegal animals may be turned in to any Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture office, any 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. Individuals possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony, face fines of up to $200,000 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).