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Slithering stowaway takes flight from Fort Lauderdale to Hawaii

Wildlife officials detained animal because snakes are banned on islands

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A small snake managed to stow away Monday on a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Hawaii, slithering out of a tourist's backpack when he arrived at his vacation rental in Maui.

The little snake managed to get through airport security and remained undiscovered for the more than eight-hour flight.

The owners of the property immediately reported the non-venomous southern black racer to local police because snakes are prohibited on the island. An official with Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources was called to the property and detained the snake.

Snakes have no natural predators on the islands, making them a serious threat to Hawaii's environment, wildlife officials said.

The snake is about the size of a ballpoint pen and appears to be a newborn, wildlife official said. However, Southern black racers, which are mainly found in Florida, can grow up to 6 feet long. 

The tourist -- a 20-year-old man from Virginia -- was unaware the snake had hitched a ride to Maui and did not bring the animal on purpose, wildlife officials said.

"Visitors to our islands may not fully understand the threat that snakes pose to our community and our unique environment. It takes all of us to protect Hawaii," said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture.