Technically Yes. There are snakes in Hawaii.
Not just a few – a considerable amount. But the real question is, are snakes native to Hawaii?
Then the answer is No, snakes are not native to Hawaii.
If you have a serious case of Ophidiophobia (overwhelming fear of our slithering friends) then this might not be the best fun fact to come across in Hawaii. But we can assure you that this is nothing like the situation Samuel Jackson faced when boarding a plane to Los Angeles.
So stick around and learn some fascinating facts on how snakes ended up in Hawaii. It just might make your future trips to Hawaii all the more interesting!
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Aren’t Snakes Native To Hawaii?
- 2 If There Are Snakes In Hawaii – How Did They End Up In The Archipelago?
- 3 How Common Are Snakes in Hawaii?
- 4 What Kind Of Snakes Are Found In Hawaii?
- 5 Are There Poisonous Snakes In Hawaii?
- 6 How Do Invasive Snakes Affect The Ecosystem in Hawaii?
- 7 Is It Legal To Own a Snake in Hawaii?
Why Aren’t Snakes Native To Hawaii?
Records suggest that the forming of the tropical islands dates back to more than 30 million years. Hawaii’s geographical location on the planet does seem to have isolated the islands from the rest of the world – they are literally 3200 kilometres from the mainland of the United States.
So it makes sense that snakes would have had no way of making it into the islands up until recent human history via boats and ships.
If There Are Snakes In Hawaii – How Did They End Up In The Archipelago?
Snakes are not native to Hawaii – this we now know.
Despite being so isolated from other nations, how exactly did snakes end up in this tropical paradise?
The answer is dreadfully simple. These snakes made their way to the lands of Hawaii either through a boat or a plane via human intervention.
Though snakes were not quite part of the original ecosystem blueprint for the islands of Hawaii, it contains the ideal climate and environmental conditions for a slithering reptilian species to make it into a home sweet home.
Snakes are cold-blooded. They don’t prefer the cold weather. But that doesn’t mean they enjoy overly warm weather either. Hawaii being a tropical island is warm through most of the year, with rains and rare storms making visits from November to March and once in a while in June.
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How Common Are Snakes in Hawaii?
Snakes are not frequently spotted. However, that is not to say that they are rarely spotted. So below is a list of the most likely slithering beauties you might come across in Hawaii.
What Kind Of Snakes Are Found In Hawaii?
The Brahminy Blind Snake
This blackish, 6-inch long snake is also known as the Flowerpot Snake and The Island Blind Snake. Although it looks like an overgrown earthworm, it feeds on termites and ants. While it is non-venomous and is considered to be the smallest snake in North America, these little fellows are easily spotted under logs, nests and leaves.
The Brahminy Blind Snake is not native to Hawaii and it has only made its way to its new home all the way from the Philippines (records suggest it to be in 1930). Fascinatingly all the flowerpot snakes recorded in Hawaii are said to be female. Since they can reproduce eggs without fertilization, they can easily increase their population. Luckily since these fellow snake species are very harmless, the local authorities have deemed them to be of no threat to the Hawaiian ecosystem.
Local authorities have stated that there have been several boa constrictor sightings in Hawaii in the past decade. These fellas can grow almost up to 9 feet! It is suspected that these Boa Constrictors could very well be escaped pets that might have been purchased through illegal means.
Since Boa Constrictors eat almost anything they can get, they pose a huge threat to the other wildlife. We are talking about birds, monkeys, and other wild mammals – humans too (if large enough). They have jaws that can stretch well enough to swallow large prays. It’s definitely a significant enough threat to the Hawaiian ecosystem.
The Ball Python can grow up to six feet in length, and they mostly prey on small mammals and birds. These snakes almost have a regal appearance with their diamond-shaped head and the stunning brown-gold patterns on the scales. Beautiful as they are, their eating habits make them quite detrimental to the Hawaiian Ecosystem – especially since they have proven themselves to be rather ferocious predators.
Yes, they are non-venomous and docile in nature. It has resulted in them being taken in as pets, especially in the USA. Harmless to humans but not to the Hawaiian ecosystem.
The Corn Snake can grow into approx. 6 feet. While these guys are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans, they still pose a considerable threat to small mammals, birds and other native critters. It isn’t exactly good news to the Hawaiian wildlife or those in charge of conserving the wilderness. But fortunately, Corn Snakes are actually very rarely seen.
The Garter Snake is actually more commonly found in the United States. While the same can’t be said about its presence in Hawaii, there has been more than one sighting.
These snakes are anything but docile and if provoked they will take a generous bite. You won’t die from it, but the bitten area will require medical attention. And like all the other snakes found in Hawaii, these slithery friends will also feed on small creatures – causing an immediate threat to the balance of the ecosphere of Hawaii.
Are There Poisonous Snakes In Hawaii?
So yes, there are a couple of venomous snakes on that list, and you need to know which ones they are, should your fortune decide to lead you to an unexpected meet up with these reptilian beauties.
Brown Tree Snake
This quirky fellow is mainly native to the islands nestled in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. But through vessels and cargo ships, they managed to make their way to the distant islands of Hawaii.
These snakes can eat up to 70% of their body weight per day. Their diet will include small critters and birds, but this does not mean they are less threatening to humans (in other words, they are bad news!).
If you want to understand just how threatening Brown Tree Snakes are, all you need to do is look into the case of Guam in the 1940s. Where a healthy population of Brown Tree Snakes multiplied over the decades and created crippling damage to the ecosystem by nearly driving the native species to extinction through feeding alone.
Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake
These Yellow-Bellied Snakes are poisonous and have proven to be rather disastrous for the native species of Hawaii. The good news is they are aquatic species and rarely found near the Hawaiian shores.
How Do Invasive Snakes Affect The Ecosystem in Hawaii?
To put it into the simplest terms, Hawaii has created its own unique ecosystem. Homing mammals, birds and a diverse group of marine life. Harmoniously living. Snakes are an invasive species that hitched to the island through unexpected means. Since most of these native species don’t identify snakes as predators – they fall into being easy prey. And if this situation is not rigidly controlled and monitored by the wildlife authorities, Hawaii will soon face a similar situation as Guam once did.
Is It Legal To Own a Snake in Hawaii?
It is in fact illegal to own a pet snake in Hawaii – It’s because snakes are natural predators that can easily be a threat to the fragile environmental balance in Hawaii. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Those reptilian pets, who manage to escape their homes, make way to the tropical wilderness in Hawaii.
Unfortunately, if you are caught owning, transporting, or possessing any snake in Hawaii then you will be: fined up to $200,000; imprisoned for not more than three years. It may seem harsh, but that’s how seriously Hawaii works to prevent snakes from becoming an issue.