An ambulance crew captured a live, ball python snake in Hilo and turned it in to authorities.
The crew from American Medical Response found the snake — measuring about 4 feet long and weighing about 3 pounds — early Monday morning near Old Airport Road. The crew transported the snake to Hawaii County police, which at about 2 a.m. contacted a plant quarantine inspector with the state Department of Agriculture.
Officials said the snake is being safeguarded at the Hilo Plant Quarantine Office. Staff at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo determined that the snake is a sexually immature, female ball python.
The snake may be the one inspectors were searching for following a June 27 Facebook post that included a photo of one in the area. After conducting nightly searches and deploying traps, inspectors were unable to find the snake. But the one captured looks similar to the one posted on Facebook.
This is the third time a ball python has been found in Hilo in three years.
In October, a woman brought in a 3-foot-long ball python after running over it in her car near the same area. In June 2018, county workers found a 4.5-foot-long ball python at the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill.
The origin of all three snakes remain unknown.
Officials said ball pythons are non-venomous and can grow up to 6 feet in length. They are native to Western and West-Central Africa, officials said, but are common in the mainland pet trade. They are constrictors that subdue their prey — usually small mammals and birds — by coiling around them, and suffocating them.
Snakes are illegal to import or possess in Hawaii, officials said. Anyone possessing an illegal animal may be charged with a class C felony, and face fines up to $200,000 and up to five years in prison.
Under an amnesty program, however, individuals who have illegal animals may turn them in with no criminal charges or civil penalties if done prior to the start of an investigation.
Any illegal animal may be dropped off at any HDOA Office, local Humane Society or at municipal zoos. Officials said animals turned in under amnesty will not be euthanized.
Information on illegal animals can be reported to the state’s toll-free pest hotline at 643-7378.