Wednesday, April 25, 2001

The cobra-in-question at the plant quarantine station.
This snake was caught in Honolulu.

State’s first live
cobra captured
at airport

The deadly snake turned up
in the cargo hold of an airplane
from the Philippines upon
landing in Honolulu

By Nelson Daranciang

THE SNAKE looked so dry that state Department of Agriculture Honolulu Airport supervisor Roy Oda thought it was dead. He realized he was wrong when he grabbed it and the snake moved.

The two-and-a-half foot long snake is the first live cobra ever captured in Hawaii.

"At first the animal appeared to be dead when they first ran across it," said Domingo Cravalho, Jr., the department's animal specialist. "So I guess when it moved and they saw the extra hooded section, it just kind of raised the alarm."

Cargo handlers from Philippine Airlines discovered the snake about 2:00 a.m. Saturday in the corner of the cargo hold of the Airbus A340 aircraft which had just flown in from Manila.

Flight 100 is a direct flight from the Philippines to Hawaii. A search of the cargo hold turned up no other snakes.

State officials believe the snake belongs to one of three types of monocle cobras found in the Philippines, but they are not sure which one.

"The species hasn't been determined because of the fact that the only way you can do it is by counting the scales on the underside. And this one is one of the more highly venomous ones," Cravalho said.

He said Honolulu Zoo reptile specialist Duane Meier cautioned against handling the snake because there is no cobra anti-venom in Hawaii.

Monocle cobras get their name from the markings in their back just below their head which resembles an eyepiece. The snake has a V-shaped marking but there are no circles on the tips of the "V."

The killer snake is being held in a container in an escape-proof room at the Agriculture Department's Plant Quarantine Station in Kakaako.

State law does not allow any isle zoo to have venomous snakes, so as soon as it is positively identified, the cobra will probably be sent to the mainland, department officials said.

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