POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 23, 2011
An Oahu resident, alarmed by the case of a Florida toddler killed by a pet python, called in a tip to Honolulu police that led to officers seizing a ball python from a Waialua home Friday, police said.
The 3-foot-6-inch ball python is the 13th illegal reptile captured in Hawaii since June 29, and the fifth snake.
A Whitmore Village resident called CrimeStoppers with a tip about a snake owner in Waialua. The anonymous caller said he or she was concerned after seeing news reports of the July 14 conviction of a Florida couple for manslaughter and other charges after the woman's 2-year-old daughter was strangled by the family's pet python, said police Sgt. Kim Buffett, Honolulu CrimeStoppers coordinator.
"The public is starting to understand the dangers snakes pose," Buffett said Friday. "It could kill a baby and strangle someone to death."
The Waialua python owner was allowed to surrender the snake under the state's amnesty program for illegal animals. The owner will not face penalties, which could have included three years in prison and a $200,000 fine.
Since June 29 the state Department of Agriculture has taken custody of 13 illegal animals: a ball python, two boa constrictors and two albino Burmese pythons, along with eight lizards — three bearded dragons, a blue-tongued skink, a tegu lizard, an iguana and two leopard geckos. All but one were turned in under the amnesty program.
"I'm pretty surprised with the number of animals we've been receiving," said Keevin Minami, the department's land vertebrate specialist. "People are starting to understand that you shouldn't be keeping these animals."
The ball python will stay with the other 12 animals at the department's Plant Quarantine Branch until arrangements can be made to ship it to a reptile farm on the mainland.