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Snake Species Found in Hawaii (With Pictures)

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Most people believe that there are no snakes to be found in Hawaii, not even water snakes, but this simply is not true. There is one snake that currently thrives on the main islands of Hawaii. It is called the Island Blind snake, also called the Brahminy Blind snake. Keep reading to learn more about this interesting little snake:

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The Island/Brahminy Blind Snake

Species Ramphotyhlops braminus
Longevity 6 – 18 months
Good to own as a pet? No
Legal to own? Yes
Adult size 5 – 6 inches
Diet Carnivorous

Snakes are not legal to own or breed snakes in Hawaii because they could easily destroy the natural ecosystem and native animal species that are thriving and helping farmers produce food throughout the islands. There have been snakes found and captured in the state due to illegal importation, but these instances are few and far between.

Although snakes are illegal in Hawaii, the Island Blind snake is allowed to thrive there. This is because the Island Blind snake causes no threat to Hawaii’s ecosystem or people. It is said that these tiny snakes made their way to Hawaii in potting soil that was imported from the Philippines in the 1900s.

The Brahminy (or Island) Blind snake is common throughout the islands nowadays and does nothing but burrow and eat small amounts of larvae, eggs, termites, and ants. These little snakes grow to be no longer than about 6 inches, and they live under the ground soil.

They look like earthworms, which many people who come across them mistake them for. Both their ends are blunt, and they are shiny like earthworms are. However, they have tiny eyes and a slithering tongue on one end, just like any snake does. A small spike protrudes from the snake’s backend that is used to “sting” predators, although the “sting” is barely felt by humans.

The Island Blind snake sheds their skin just like other snakes do, and the old skin serves as an effective fertilizer for gardens and landscapes. What is most interesting about the Island Blind snake is how they reproduce. All the Island Blind snakes in Hawaii are females. They lay unfertilized eggs, but those eggs hatch as clones and live on to lay eggs themselves. While this is fascinating, the situation raises a serious risk to the snakes — one disease or virus could wipe them all out because they have identical DNA and immune systems.

The Island Blind snake has no natural predators in Hawaii, which is why they do so well in the environment today. They the cousin of the venomous Western Rattlesnake, commonly seen in California, but they are not toxic, which is good news for Hawaii residents and tourists alike.

Where Can Island Blind Snakes Be Found?

Island Blind snakes like to live under the ground soil. Where soil is not readily available (many places in the Hawaiian islands are literal lava landscapes and some places have only an inch or two of soil), these snakes can be found living underneath old leaves and rotting wood on the ground.

They will go anywhere the sun is not when necessary. They can be found on any of the main islands, including Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Kauai, and even Molokai. Gardeners can easily find them wherever they find worms, and hikers may find one under a piece of old foliage or wood during an adventure through the forest.

Otherwise, it is highly unlikely that the average resident or tourist will find one of these little snakes during their outdoor escapades. The truth is that no Hawaiian resident or tourist should worry about coming across dangerous snakes while on adventures. But if they are lucky enough, they will find an Island Blind snake while gardening.

Scary Snake Discoveries in Hawaii

Any snake found in Hawaii is a scary situation. Even the typical garden snake that is common in the rest of the United States and most other parts of the world could wreak havoc on Hawaii’s ecosystem. Snakes would ravage native bird species and almost certainly eradicate helpful insects and bugs. Some could even pose a danger to humans due to their venom and/or ability to constrict. This is why snakes are illegal in Hawaii.

However, this has not stopped the state from experiencing scary snake situations. Once, a boa constrictor was found on the island of Maui, just slithering around in the wild where anyone could have come across them. Luckily, the person who saw the snake from afar and knew to quickly call authorities to ensure that they were captured and deported as soon as possible. On another occasion, a large snake was discovered and captured near the airport in Hilo on the Big Island.

These incidences are rare, but they pose a serious risk to the landscape of Hawaii. This is why those who are caught importing or keeping snakes in Hawaii face a multi-thousand dollar fine and up to 3 years in prison if caught.

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Conclusion

Snakes are interesting creatures, but they do not belong in every landscape throughout the world. For example, Guam’s native birds have been all but eradicated due to an infestation of brown tree snakes, which are harmless to humans. Nobody was concerned about the snakes until they started impacting the environment.

Hawaii does all that it can to keep snakes out of the state so they do not have to face environmental problems. So, don’t try importing a snake to Hawaii thinking that it won’t make a difference to anyone or anything else. If you must enjoy the experience of interacting with a snake while in Hawaii, get your hands dirty and start digging in the soil.


Featured Image Credit: Radiant Reptilia, Shutterstock

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. As a vegan, Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. Animals also happen to be her favorite topic to write about! She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens.