On Tuesday morning, a pedestrian in Honolulu's Chinatown came across a snake in the sidewalk.
Now it'd be surprising enough to stumble upon a two-and-a-half foot non-venomous rainbow boa constrictor at 7 a.m., but in Hawaii it's downright shocking.
That's because, technically, Hawaii doesn't have any snakes. Not only because it's paradise, but because, as Discover.com reminds us, "as an isolated archipelago, the only way for wildlife species to get to the Hawaiian Islands is to fly or swim across the Pacific Ocean."
While Hawaii is rife with invasive species, snakes are among the most dangerous. Without any natural predators, they compete with the native animal populations for food and habitat, and many snake species prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to Hawaii's many endangered native birds.
Accordingly, it's a class C felony to possess or transport snakes in Hawaii. Violators risk a $200,000 fine and up to three years in prison, but the state has still collected or confiscated roughly 100 snakes since 2000. Since many in Hawaii have never even seen a snake, they are especially captivating on the black market, where snakes often arrive in shipping packages or hidden in luggage.
The state has a progressive amnesty program, however, which allows illegal animals to be turned in no questions asked. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture emphasizes that "Animals turned in under amnesty will not be euthanized."
Tuesday's snake sighting is the second in just over a month for the island of Oahu. In late September, a 5-foot long boa constrictor was run over on the Pali Highway.
"I saw something in the road and I said, 'Yo, that's a snake,'" Jesse Spence told Hawaii News Now. "But my friends said, 'You're tripping there are no snakes in Hawaii.'"
It's not clear where either of these snakes came from, but investigators hope they are freak incidents and not a growing trend.