Rainy Side View: Leave your snakes on the mainland

  • Rochelle delaCruz

A few years ago, Hawaii Island was gifted with a boa. Not the fluffy feather boa, black and tinged with neon green, that you wear around your neck at Halloween or Mardi Gras. It’s the other kind of boa — one that you can still wrap around your neck, except this one could turn you black with tinges of neon green as it strangles you.

It’s that boa, a constrictor that arrived on the island. But this is Hawaii where snakes are illegal, and I for one would like to keep it that way.


In case you are unfamiliar, a boa constrictor is big, tough and at the top of the food chain. One recently ate an alligator in Florida, and of course the snake exploded, a warning to us all about eyes too big.

Occasionally, we hear about snake sightings in the islands because of the ones that get smuggled in and then escape — they’re slippery or are set free by morons!

A while ago, a visitor was treating his pet snake to an island vacation by sneaking it onto the plane in his pants pocket. He turned it over to authorities (mahalo) after learning, by filling out the airline declaration form, that snakes are illegal here.

I also heard of an unreported snake that came along with a son visiting his mother who screamed when she found it coiled up in his suitcase. She sternly told him to make sure it went home when he did. He was lucky, because if that boy had been one of mine, I would have slapped his head and then handed his slinky traveling companion over to permanent quarantine.

I ask myself why some visitors want to take a vacation with their snake instead of their girlfriend. But it doesn’t take me long to guess that these stupid-heads probably don’t have a girlfriend. And, I conclude, the reason they don’t have a girlfriend, is because they have a SNAKE!

I wonder if snake lovers know what it would mean to these islands if their squamous pets established themselves here. Imagine hiking down to Kealakekua Bay and stepping on a garter snake, or worse, a lethal rattler.

To thwart blockheads who bring in banned vertebrates, I hereby propose that anyone caught with a snake in Hawaii should not only face a hefty fine, but be required to eat the scaly reptile, just to make sure it is gone, gone, gone. Make die dead. (I’m sure I will be accused of anti-serpent bias but blame it on the Garden of Eden.)

So back to the boa that is now residing at the Panaewa Rainfirest Zoo outside of Hilo. This one did not sneak in but was invited by the County Council. In fact, we learned that a then-Hawaii council member had been lobbying for the snake since it was confiscated in Honolulu several years ago.

With burning issues on this island — lava flows in Puna, aquarium fish wars in Kona, disputed telescopes on Maunakea — the council member focused on a boa constrictor. As we work to keep snakes out of Hawaii, our elected official slid one in.

He said he wanted children to learn about snakes so as not to bring any into the Islands. Talk about convoluted logic, because he did just that — brought a snake in — so does he want his rare, medium, well-done, or maybe sashimi or poke? I’m flexible, because thanks to such puzzling persistence, there could now be parents and kids, agog with this exotic slitherer at the zoo, who might think how cute, and let’s get one as a secret pet!

Until it eats the dog.

I implore the current County Council, the mayor and whoever went along with this pupule idea to reconsider and get the boa constrictor back to where it belongs, which is … not here. Nowadays, if children want to explore the world of snakes, they can go online to watch one devour a fawn.

As for new additions to Panaewa, please take a pass on elongated limbless reptiles, especially since they are not candidates for the petting zoo.


And heaven help us all if they should escape.

Rochelle delaCruz was born in Hilo, graduated from Hilo High School, then left to go to college. After teaching for 30 years in Seattle, Wash., she retired and returned home to Hawaii. Rochelle welcomes your comments at rainysideview@gmail.com. Her column appears the second and fourth Monday of each month.

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