A live 4-foot ball python was captured Monday in Hilo by an American Medical Response ambulance crew.
The snake, weighing about 3 pounds, was found near the Old Airport Road and given to the police, according to the state Department of Agriculture. The police then contacted a plant quarantine inspector with the DOA at about 2 a.m. Monday.
The snake is currently being safeguarded at the Hilo Plant Quarantine Office. Staff at the Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo determined the snake is a sexually immature female ball python.
On June 27, DOA inspectors were informed about 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.
In October 2019, a 3-foot ball python was captured by a resident who ran over it near the same area. In June 2018, a 4 1/2-foot ball python was found at the Hilo landfill by county workers.
Ball pythons are not venomous and can grow up to 6 feet in length. They are common in the pet trade on the mainland and are native to Africa. Ball pythons are constrictors that subdue prey by coiling around and suffocating it. The snake’s diet usually consists of small mammals and birds.
Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to the environment in the islands because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat, the DOA said. Large snakes also can be a threat to the health and safety of humans, pets and other domestic animals.
Snakes are illegal to import and/or possess in Hawaii. Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the amnesty program. Any illegal animal can be dropped off at any state DOA office, local humane society or at municipal zoos. Animals turned in under amnesty will not be euthanized.
Individuals possessing illegal animals can be charged with a Class C felony, issued fines of up to $200,000 and could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Anyone with information about illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free pest hot line at 643-PEST (7378).