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March 22, 2000

Six-Foot Boa Constrictor Found in Palolo Neighborhood

Honolulu - A six-foot boa constrictor snake was found in the backyard of a home on Narcissus Street in Palolo this morning. The resident spotted the snake on a sidewalk in her backyard and called police, which then notified the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA).

Responding police officers monitored the movement of the snake, but as it started to move toward bushes, the officers caught it and held it in a pillowcase until HDOA inspectors arrived on the scene. The snake is currently being safeguarded at the HDOA's Plant Quarantine facility until a suitable home can be found.

During the later part of February, a neighbor who lives several homes away from where the snake was found reported seeing what he thought was a tail end of a snake. Department of Agriculture inspectors set a trap for two weeks but did not capture any snakes.

Boa constrictors are nonvenomous and are found throughout the greater part of tropical Central and South America. They can grow up to 12 feet in length and has a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats.

A photo opportunity of the snake is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. this afternoon at the HDOA's Plant Quarantine Station, located at 701 Ilalo Street.

In unrelated cases, two other snakes, one dead, were also recently reported to the Department of Agriculture. Earlier in March, a student walking home from school in Kahaluu, Oahu, saw some chickens pecking at a dead snake along the side of the road. The 16-inch snake was picked up by Agriculture inspectors and identified as a corn snake.

On March 17, a Waiakea High School student returned from a trip to Oahu and while unpacking her clothes found a 16 1/2-inch snake next to her backpack. Her brother was able to capture the snake and put it in a jar. The student then took the snake to school the next day and a teacher confiscated the snake and called Agriculture officials in Hilo who picked up the snake and transported it to the Plant Quarantine Station in Honolulu. That snake is believed to be in the garter snake family, but was sent to the Bishop Museum for positive identification.

State law prohibits the importation and possession of snakes and other illegal animals. Perpetrators caught harboring and raising illegal animals face stiff penalties with a minimum fine of $5,000 and a maximum of $200,000 and up to three years in jail.

Owners of illegal pets are encouraged to turn them into the department under the State's Amnesty Program, which grants immunity to those who voluntarily come forward. Anyone with information or knowledge about snakes and other illegal animals is asked to call the department's PEST Hotline at 586-PEST (7378).