State working on search plan after venomous snake found on Hickam tarmac

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Hawaii is supposed to be snake-free, but that’s not always the case.

A live, foot-long tree snake was spotted eating a gecko on a Hickam tarmac Thursday afternoon.

Officials say a little tree snake could cause big problems in Hawaii.

“It feeds on birds. It’s also known to feed on bats and we have a hoary bat that is native to Hawaii,” State Department of Agriculture land vertebrate specialist Keevin Minami said.

Alarms have gone off following the discovery of the baby snake.

“We would have to do searches to make sure they don’t get established here. They could wipe out the native bird population like they did in Guam and that’s not a good thing,” Minami said.

The Department of Agriculture is working on a search plan.

“Oh yes, it really alarms me. Last night, we stayed here ’til like 8 p.m. trying to figure out what kinds of things we need to do. Because we need to do searches of the area of Hickam, maybe even the old airport actually. Because there may be other snakes there as well that hitchhiked,” Minami said.

KHON2 asked where the snake may have come from.

“This snake is from southeast Asia. So we need to figure out what planes came from southeast Asia,” Minami said.

It’s not the first live snake the Ag Department has come across. Two years ago another snake was found.

“In the past, we’ve had a live snake coming in with cut flowers. This snake was called the yellow spotted keedleback. It was found in orchid flowers coming from Thailand,” Minami said.

Anyone who isn’t a fan of snakes would find this latest capture very creepy.

“He identified it as an ornate tree snake, also known as a golden flying tree snake. The snake can leap from tree to tree,” Minami said.

Not only does it fly, the snake is mildly venomous.

While the snake’s venom probably wouldn’t kill someone, it could cause swelling and an allergic reaction.

The Air Force is continuing surveys of the area.

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