Snake eludes
hunters’ search

By Leila Fujimori

State Department of Agriculture inspectors came up empty-handed yesterday in their hunt for an elusive 4- to 5-foot boa constrictor in Moanalua.

The snake hunters resumed their search near the Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center and the Moanalua Golf Course at 10 a.m. yesterday, the approximate time the snake was first seen on Thursday.

"We had golfers come up to us all day saying, 'Did you get him, did you get him?'" said Domingo Cravalho, the department's invertebrate and biota specialist.

Four state agriculture inspectors formed a line 10 feet apart and searched the grassy area around the hospital and golf course for about two hours.

The first witness saw the snake sunning itself, which may indicate it had just consumed food and was trying to digest it by warming up, Cravalho said.

"In that case, it may be holed up where it is cool, away from direct heat and sun, and basically is just waiting for his next meal," he said, which could be up to a month.

The area has an abundance of prey for the snake to consume, namely rats, mice, mongooses and birds, Cravalho said.

The tan-and-brown snake was first spotted Thursday at 10:15 a.m. by a Kaiser patient who was smoking a cigarette while leaning over the railing of the Kaiser parking garage before his appointment at the office building.

The man reportedly said it looked like a boa constrictor, and he claimed to have experience with snakes on the mainland, Cravalho said.

Cravalho said he would like to talk to the man directly to get more details, but the hospital has raised privacy issues.

A police officer and a security guard also saw the snake, and their descriptions are consistent with a boa constrictor.

The Agriculture Department received the first call at 10:50 a.m. Thursday, and inspectors arrived shortly after 11 a.m. They searched for 45 minutes but could not find the animal. Inspectors will resume their search Monday.

Although the witnesses had not seen the entire length of the snake, Cravalho estimated its length at 4 to 5 feet, judging by its girth.

Cravalho warned the public not to approach the snake, as it could bite or, in the case of a child, could latch on and constrict the neck.

Anyone who sees a snake should call the Agriculture Department's hot line at 586-PEST, Cravalho said.

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