Maui News

Boa Constrictor and Piranhas found at Fire Scene

February 25, 2011, 1:33 PM HST
* Updated February 25, 4:26 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Alewa Boa Constrictor, photo courtesy HDOA.

An illegal boa constrictor and four piranhas were found in an Alewa Heights home that was damaged in a fire Thursday.

Officials from the Hawaiian Humane Society were called to the scene, and took possession of the illegal reptile and fish.  Agricultural inspectors also went to the home this morning as part of their investigation into the incident.

The snake is approximately five feet in length, and the four adult-size piranhas are approximately five inches long.  Both species are illegal in Hawaii and pose a threat to the state’s delicate environment.

Alewa Piranha, courtesy photo HDOA.

Boa constrictors are non-venomous and are native to Central and South America.  They are common in the pet trade outside of Hawaii and can grow up to 12 feet. They have a normal diet of small mammals such as mice and rats.  Because snakes have no natural predators in Hawai`i, they pose a serious threat to the environment. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds.


Piranhas are freshwater fish native to South America. Known for their razor-like teeth, their diet consists of insects, worms and other fish, but are also known to eat carcasses and vegetation. Piranhas may grow up to 12 inches in length.


Persons possessing illegal animals can be charged with a class C felony and are subject to fines up to $200,000 and three years in prison.

Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the State’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed. Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

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