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No Snakes in Hawaii – Is It True?

Maybe you’ve heard it before: “It’s amazing! There are NO snakes in Hawaii!”

Sadly, that’s one rumor that just isn’t true – but it’s not for lack of trying.

It’s illegal to own a pet snake in Hawaii, but that doesn’t mean it never happens. Because snakes are not native to Hawaii, they present an alarming risk to the fragile Hawaiian ecosystem if they were ever introduced. Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii, which means they could wreak havoc on other wildlife populations if they were ever allowed into the ecosystem. People caught with pet snakes in Hawaii face up to 3 years in jail and $200,000 in fines.

Unfortunately, people do smuggle snakes into Hawaii as pets, then get bored of them and release them into the wild. In January of this year, workers found a 2-foot snake near Honolulu Airport. There were also a couple of snakes captured in July 2011, a 9-foot boa constrictor and 7-foot albino Burmese python.

There is also some concern about ships coming from Guam, which has a brown tree snake infestation problem. However, thanks to special measures enacted in Hawaii, only one brown tree snake has ever been caught in Hawaii since 1994.

There is one snake that does live in Hawaii, likely an import from the Philippines: the Island Blind Snake. This snake is harmless and so small that it is often mistaken for an earthworm.

In general, it is safe to say that the chances of you coming across a snake on your Hawaii vacation are pretty much zero. Hawaii is very serious about its “no snakes” policies – so unless you’re visiting the Honolulu zoo, all signs point to your Hawaii vacation being totally snake-free.

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Comments (5)

  • Jay December 18, 2013 - 11:08 am Reply

    Like so many invasive species that now run amuck on islands around the world, mongooses were intentionally introduced to Hawaii. Sugar cane farmers took their cue from Jamaican plantation owners who imported mongooses to control rat populations. In 1883 the mongooses were let loose in the fields, an approach that proved to be colossally uninformed. As it turns out, rats are nocturnal and mongooses are diurnal. The exotic predators never came in contact with their rodent prey, and native bird populations began crashing instead.

  • Berta C October 27, 2013 - 1:55 am Reply

    Tour Director in Hawaii told us that they were overrun with rattlesnakes in Hawaii but that the Environmental Police brought in Mongoose and now there weren’t any snakes but they were now overrun with Mongoose. I must say, we went to a park and we did see quite a few Mongoose running around.

    • Jay December 18, 2013 - 11:06 am Reply

      This is not true. The mongoose where brought over to deal with the huge rat population. They were brought over by sugar cane farmers. This was a common practice in Jamaica. To my knowledge there has never been any type of venomous snake issue in hawaii.

      Aloha

  • zach March 15, 2013 - 11:24 am Reply

    The thread snake is common on the big island. Not much bigger than worm, but still a snake

    • Paula March 15, 2013 - 11:52 am Reply

      Oops – I stand corrected … allow me to correct .. there are no indigenous snakes in Hawaii, and thankfully a thread snake is not harmful! Thanks for the comment, Zach!

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