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Experts warn public to stay vigilant about snakes

By JEFFERSON TYLER

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    KAPOLEI, Hawaii (KITV) — An update on that 21 inch gopher snake that was found at Home Depot in Kapolei. Right now, the Department of Agriculture has the snake in quarantine to make sure it doesn’t pose a health risk.

The department of Agriculture says after isolation, the snake may either be shipped back to the mainland or it may be used to educate keiki on why it’s important not to have snakes in Hawaii. Experts say this is a lesson everyone needs to learn, if they want the eco-system here to continue .

“The first thing for us is we need to get this snake as soon as possible to make sure it doesn’t escape,” said Department of Agriculture Inspection and Compliance Chief Jonathan Ho.

The little snake has the attention of reptile experts vigilant on Oahu. The 21-inch gopher snake showed on a pallet of shipped containers in a Home Depot in Kapolei. Police captured it in a bucket and turned it over to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture who say its fortunate it was called in so quickly. There’s no telling what could have happened if it got free into the state’s lush greenery.

“The birds here are already for the most part endangered or critically endangered. The establishment of another predator or pressure, could be the last straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of their ability to exist,” said Ho.

“The animals here did not evolve with snakes. So they have no defenses against snakes,” said Honolulu Zoo Animal Keeper 2 Rebecca Choquette.

Gopher snakes still cause a risk to the Aloha state, even if they aren’t venemous. And that isn’t the only threat they pose. “All reptiles can carry Salmonella which is a bacteria humans can get. It can give you some pretty nasty GI symptoms if you catch it. Any time you handle any reptile you need to wash your hands,” said Choquette.

Besides giving you a terminal upset stomach, snakes can carry other bacteria and diseases. They can also carry ticks, parasites, and other pests. The Depot Snake is in isolation for about 14 days, until it’s determined not to have any of these issues.

“There was a lot of concern that it was possible in had gotten in potting mixes where there could have been breeding. That doesn’t appear to be the case at this point,” said Ho.

Experts say its important to know these snakes are not an issue on the mainland. It’s being in Hawaii creating an issue. They need the public’s help making sure these sort of invasive creature don’t become a problem now or in the future.

“Let’s use the word vigilant and not worried. If everybody keeps an eye out for things that are not supposed to be here. We can protect our natural environment,” said Choquette.

If you see a snake it’s recommended you call the police or call the Department of Agriculturee Hotline at 808- 643-Pest. Do not try to capture it yourself.

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