Snake Found in Shipping Container

Dept. of Agriculture News Release

A live snake was found in a shipping container on Molokai the morning of Jan. 8, while it was being unloaded at a hardware store in Kaunakakai. Maui County Police on Molokai were called to the hardware store shortly after 8 a.m. Arriving officers shot and killed the snake with a pellet gun. The snake measured about 20-inches long and has been identified as a non-venomous gopher snake.

Staff from the Molokai Invasive Species Committee (MoMISC) held the dead snake at the hardware store until Maui Plant Quarantine Branch inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) arrived on the island just before noon. The container had been shipped from California to Molokai.

HDOA inspectors and MoMISC staff conducted a thorough search of the two pallets where the snake was found and did not find any more snakes or any evidence of snakes. They also searched the warehouse, surrounding area, and three other Molokai hardware stores and did not find evidence of snakes.

Gopher snakes are found in North America and can grow up to about seven feet. Its diet consists of small rodents, young rabbits, lizards, birds and their eggs. Prey is killed by constriction and suffocation. In Hawaii, snakes are illegal to possess, have no natural predators, and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s unique ecosystem as they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat.

Anyone with information about illegal animals should call the statewide toll-free Pest Hotline at (808) 643-PEST. The maximum penalty under state law for possession and/or transporting illegal animals, a Class C felony, is a $200,000 fine and up to three years in prison. Sightings or captures of illegal animals or invasive species should also be reported to the hotline.


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