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Wednesday, July 13, 2011


There are three categories of snakes in Hawaii:

  1.  Indigenous:  the Brahminy Blind Snake can every so often be seen in your garden. However, you won't be impressed, as it is about as large as an earthworm, and, curiously enough, is always a female.  It is parthenogenic...meaning males are not necessary to procreate.  The main difference from an earthworm is that the snake does flick its tongue out.  It is the most widespread snake species in the world.

There is also the potential for a sea snake,  more specifically, the only open ocean variety, the Yellow-bellied Sea Snake (photo by Phil Myer.)  However, only one has ever been reported in our waters.  But it is very poisonous.  If you run across one while swimming, do not panic.  It is timid and will not attack you.  Just don't threaten it.

  2.  Pet snakes:  These are snuck into the state, and they escape or are somehow found in a home.  Just this year, four have been discovered on Oahu:

      a.  A 4 ' 4" Black Rat Snake (no, it does not look like a rat; it eats rats) was recovered in Waipahu in February.  Some of them are almost black, but this one was not.  The BRS can grow up to 8 feet long.

      b.  Also in February, a 5' Boa Constrictor (with four 5" long piranhas) was found in a burning home.  I wonder who fed them, as the place was unoccupied for more than a year.  The largest BC ever found was 18 feet long.

      c.  This month, a 9' 3" Boa Constrictor, 57 pounds, was captured in Waiawa Gulch,

      d.  Also this month, a 7' Python was taken into custody on a tip to Animal CrimeStoppers in a West Loch home.  Interesting that the owner was granted amnesty by giving up the snake.

  3.  Invasive snakes:  The Brown Tree Snake, which has caused problems in Guam, and now and then appears when it hitches a ride on a plane from that island.

So how big is the largest snake?  Paleontologists measured a 43 feet long fossil, with a weight estimated to be 2,500 pounds.  European explorers have reported on 100 foot long snakes in South American jungles, and anacondas up to 150 feet have been allegedly seen. The longest could be the Reticulated Python (as opposed to a Burmese Python), but the Anaconda is heavier.  A 1000  pound Brazilian anaconda was supposedly measured to be 34 feet.

Usually the distortion comes from the shed skin, which can be stretched.  Well, there was that 50 foot long, 1000 pound, Reticulated Python in Indonesia, Fragrant Flower, from 2003/4 news articles.  However, when actually measured, it turned out to only be a little more than 20 feet long (below).

Guinness' largest is Baby, a 32', 402 pound Burmese Python from Serpent Safari of Gurnee, Illinois.  The Wildlife Conservation Society has since the 1900's offered a cash reward of $50,000 for live delivery of any snake more than 30 feet long.  No one has yet to claim this prize.  Hmmm...send that Gurnee python to the New York Zoological Society for a sure $50K.  Oops, too bad, Baby recently passed away.  However,  Serpent Safari has another one weighing in at 385 pounds and only 17 years old.  Pythons can live up to 40 years, but only in the wild.
Also only recently expiring a few months ago was Fluffy (right), 24 feet and 300 pounds from the Columbus Zoo in Ohio  She was a Burmese Python.

Want to see Burmese Pythons in a real jungle?  They come from the yellow area surrounding Myanmar (formerly Burma) to the left.

The Reticulated Pythons are in the following green portion of Southeast Asia.
  Anacondas are from South America (yellow portion to the left).
However, the Boa Constrictor is a little more widely spread (right).

Returning to Hawaii, except for that blind snake, all these snakes are illegal, and if you want to turn yours in, call the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, the Honolulu Zoo or Humane Society.  You can also be a snitch and report one through the Pest Hotline at 808 643 7378.  (Conveniently, PEST happens to be 7378 on your dial.)  Keep in mind that the maximum penalty for possessing an illegal animal is $200,000 and three years in jail.

The Dow Jones was looking good, up 163 at one point today, but settled only plus 45 at 12,492, with world markets also all up.  Even gold increased, at last look after hours, $15/toz to $1584, an all-time high in the U.S.  Mind you this is still 35% below the inflation-adjusted high of January 1980.  The NYMEX crude is at $98/barrel, with the Brent Spot at $118/barrel.

Typhoon Ma-on will be strengthening into a Category 4 storm and is now heading a bit further north towards Kyushu.  However, most computer models show it turning north, then northwest, and could well slide along the Pacific side of Japan.


1 comment:

RossGee said...

Fluffy was not a burmese python she was a reticulated python owned by bob Clark