HONOLULU — Not all snakes on planes wreak havoc. Sometimes, snakes just want to get to their end destination in peace like the rest of us.
A foot-long, non-venomous southern black racer snake hitched a ride in a man’s backpack in Florida and didn’t emerge again until arriving in Maui, Hawaii.
The unidentified 20-year-old male from Virginia told the U.S. Department of Agriculture that he was unaware of his creepy travel companion until it slithered out of his bag while at his vacation rental property in Pukalani. He also said he did not intentionally bring the racer snake when he travelled from Florida, where the species is common.
The property owner, who luckily was present at the time, alerted the visitor that snakes are illegal in Hawaii (anyone caught trying to sneak one in faces up to three years in prison and a US$200,000 fine). He then alerted police who captured the snake with help from state Department of Land and Natural Resources personnel.
“It is fortunate that the owner of the rental was aware of the seriousness of the snake being transported to Hawaii and took appropriate action and reported it,” said Phyllis Shimabukuo-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, in a news release. “Visitors to our islands may not fully understand the threat that snakes pose to our community and our unique environment. It takes all of us to protect Hawaii.”
With no natural predators on the island, snakes can wreak havoc to Hawaii’s wildlife and ecosystems by preying on birds and their eggs. And since black racer snakes can grow to up to six feet long, they also pose a threat to humans and their pets.
As for the adventurous reptile in question, it was delivered to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture at Kahului on Tuesday and is currently waiting for another ride back to Honolulu. Presumably in first class.