My favorite newspaper columnist here in Hawaii is Lee Cataluna. She writes a column for the Star Advertiser, our one and only daily newspaper and she always ‘hits the nail on the head’.

Today’s article left me rolling on the floor laughing. I especially loved her remark about peaches in Hawaii. So true.

For those of you readers who are not familiar with Hawaii laws, snakes are illegal here. Hence this timely discussion.

So if you haven’t ever read anything by Miss Cataluna, here you go:


Impracticality of snakes should alone be deterrent

By Lee Cataluna 

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 28, 2011


Pinkies aren’t free. That’s probably one of the main reasons there have been so many snakes turned in (or let go) on Oahu this year. In this economy, when it’s hard to pay for a full tank of gas and people are buying toilet paper one roll at a time rather than in bulk at Costco, who has money to feed a snake?

In the past three months, the state agriculture department has collected 15 illegal reptiles. The state offers an amnesty program, where owners of animals not allowed in the state can voluntarily turn them in with no threat of a fine or prosecution. It’s not hard to imagine that the recession makes paying for pinkies (frozen mice — I’ll spare you the gory details) a drain on the household budget.

The question bigger than “Why so many now?” is “Why so many at all?”

It’s nice to think that people everywhere are basically the same, but here’s one of those situations where there are two distinct categories: those who would go to the trouble of sneaking a snake into Hawaii and the rest of us who can’t imagine why that would be a fun thing to do.

Of all the things the mainland has that Hawaii doesn’t — ski resorts, casinos, Trader Joe’s, peaches that taste like peaches — the last thing to covet would be a snake. A snake is of little use as a pet. It won’t bark if a stranger comes to your door or purr in your ear while you unwind from a bad day at work. You can’t use their eggs to make French toast. They won’t eat your kitchen scraps and turn it into vermicast for your lawn.

It’s hard enough to bring a full-size tube of toothpaste on a plane; imagine trying to sneak on a snake. There are urban legends decades old of baby snakes sewn in the pockets of overcoats worn on the plane, but with everything TSA can see with their new naked scanners, clearly they can spot a small snake.

And then there’s the cost of care and feeding and the general humbug of getting a snake to eat — websites describe how to grab a pinkie with a set of barbecue tongs and “run” it around the snake cage to simulate live prey. Even in a boom economy, who has that kind of time?

If the lure of a snake is purely its goth factor, Hawaii has icky critters that are legal and even helpful, i.e., Jackson chameleons, composting worms, cane field toads.

Snakes are more than illegal. They’re impractical. That alone should be enough to eradicate them from Hawaii right now.

Lee Cataluna can be reached at