One of the biggest questions – Are there snakes in Hawaii? If so, what kind? Are they poisonous?

If you have been looking up information about Kauai or Hawaii, one of the interesting questions one will find is the one asking what kind of snakes there are in Hawaii and specifically Kauai. There aren’t any. At least not originally. Read on to get the whole story.

First, let me share a story that happened earlier this week that prompted the idea for this post.


Literally inches from her flip flops.
Literally inches from her flip flops.

I was awakened one morning by my daughter’s phone call, her voice shaky and she was in tears as she explained what had just happened to her.  As she was leaving for work, she stepped out of her front door and bent down to put on her flip flops. There, in the corner next to the door, was a huge snake coiled up less than 6 inches from her shoes! Amazingly and fortunately it did not strike. She ran back in the house and called the fire department.  They immediately came to remove the snake and identified it, a venomous diamondback rattler.

“He’s a big guy!” one of the firefighters remarked and from the pictures he obviously is.  I counted 10-12 rattlers, and he looked to be at least 4 feet long.

I am so thankful she was not bitten, and the incident did not occur in Hawaii, as my daughter lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, where many types of snakes thrive. Big mahalos to the Scottsdale Fire Department for their quick response and handling of this situation. They have had over 400 calls this year to help remove the snakes. They are released back in the desert as they play an important part in controlling rodents.

After sharing my daughter’s incident about the rattle snake with friends, we were talking about the fact how thankful (lucky) we are that Hawaii has no indigenous snakes. As a matter of fact, there are very few animal and plants that are indigenous. The Hawaiin Islands are the most isolated ones in the world. The nearest continent, North America, is over 2500 miles (4000 km) away. The plants and animals that inhabit the islands today were introduced when people found the islands approximately 1500 years ago, from Polynesia. Those introductions of mammals and plants changed the ecosystems forever.

Az rattle snake loves the neighborhhod
Sir Hiss

That is why bringing snakes to Hawaii today is banned and a felony. Introduction of this animal, having no effective island predators, would be devastating to the existing native birds and animals. One only has to look to the island of Guam, where snakes have devastated the existence of all native birds.

I said that there were no snakes in Hawaii … at least originally because I have read reports there have been many snakes brought here and confiscated, most found hidden in luggage or shipped through the mail. According to Hawaii News Now, the State Department of Agriculture has more snakes quarantined than the number on display at the Honolulu Zoo. They have reported since 2000 there have been 100 snakes taken into custody 🙂 – 13 in the last year. The state takes very seriously and watches closely for any entry of this animal to the islands.

Good News!

So the answer to the question, Are there snakes in Hawaii? No! You can visit and hike without worry.

Besides, snakes do not belong in Paradise.


PS: I promptly sent my daughter a homemade “Snake Repellant Kit” by priority mail from Hawaii. It included deliciously scented island-made soaps, candles, and body oil along with a mother’s aloha to soothe her spirit and remind her of her island home. My snake repellent kit was graciously received but not without a fore warning notice that a worried mother was sending it, leaving my daughter very perplexed for the few days before receiving it as to how I would purchase such a kit in Hawaii. Moms have their ways.

PSS: As this post was being finalized (5 days after the event), I received a text from my daughter that the snake, Sir Hiss – as she now calls him, was back! Coiled in the same place. The fire department will now re-locate that rattler deeper in the desert.