Maui News

Venomous Flying Tree Snake Captured in Hawaiʻi

May 24, 2013, 4:53 PM HST
* Updated May 28, 11:41 AM
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Tree snake, Photo courtesy Department of Agriculture.

Flying tree snake found at Hickam May 2013. Photo courtesy Department of Agriculture.

By Maui Now Staff

An ornate tree snake was captured by military personnel near the airfield at Hickam Air Force Base on Thursday afternoon, officials said.

According to information released by the state Department of Agriculture, the species, also known as ornate flying tree snakes for their ability to spring from tree to tree, is a native to South East Asia.

State officials say a herpetologist at the Bishop Museum described the snake as mildly venomous, and related to the brown tree snake that devastated the ecosystem in Guam.

All types of snakes are considered invasive in Hawaiʻi because they have no natural predators in the state and are known to prey on birds and their eggs.  This poses an increased threat posed to endangered native birds as well.

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Inspectors from the Agricultural Department took the juvenile foot-long snake into custody.

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“It is not known at this time how the snake got to Hawaii; however, Air Force personnel are continuing surveys of the area,” said authorities with the state Department of Agriculture in a press release this afternoon.

Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed. Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

*** Supporting information courtesy State of Hawai’i, Dept. of Agriculture.

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