February 1, 2011 at 5:09 PM HST - Updated June 15 at 2:52 PM
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Inspectors from the state Department of Agriculture captured a live snake in Waipahu Sunday. Several citizens and the Honolulu Police Department were also involved in the capture.
The snake has been identified by herpetology staff at the Honolulu Zoo as a male non-venomous black rat snake (Elaphe obsoleta), which measured four-feet, four-inches long.
Nanakuli resident Moe Suesue was on the way to the dump with his son when he spotted the snake crawling out of a stream on the side of Waipahu Depot Road around 10 a.m.
The two called the police and waited an hour until they arrived. "Safety was my top concern," Suesue said.
It was "beneficial that (Suesue) kept an eye on it," said Keevin Minami, a land vertebrate specialist working for the state Department of Agriculture. "Sometimes hunting snakes in the wild is very difficult."
When state inspectors arrived on the scene, the snake had crawled into a hole beneath two concrete barriers. Police used a car jack to move the barrier and snake hooks to coerce the snake into a bag. Residents put holding nets on either side of the barriers to keep the snake in place.
It is very rare that a snake would come up in the wild in Hawaii. Working for the state for six years, Minami hadn't encountered a single snake in the wild.
Although black rat snakes feed primarily on rats, geckos, and frogs, they are good climbers, and can feed on several indigenous bird species and their eggs nesting in trees. Snakes have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to the environment. They are native to North America and may grow to about seven feet in length.
From here, the snake will be held in quarantine until the state has enough animals to be shipped out of state under Hawaii's amnesty program, which provides immunity from extermination. Its diet from now on will likely be frozen rats, heated up with a microwave.
Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society -- no questions asked and no fines assessed.
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