Snakes of Hawaii

Island Intruders: Discovering Non-Native Venomous Snakes of Hawaii

When you think of Hawaii, images of pristine beaches, lush green landscapes, and vibrant marine life likely come to mind. However, beyond the breathtaking beauty, this tropical paradise is also home to a surprising resident. While Hawaii is known for its lack of native snakes, a few species managed to find their way to the islands, each with its own unique story and adaptations.

In this article, we will delve into the intriguing world of one venomous snake in Hawaii, exploring its origins, behavior, and the delicate balance it maintains in this island ecosystem. We will also go into detail regarding another Hawaiian snake-like creature people find quite interesting. So, buckle up, and let’s jump right into it!

1. The Brown Tree Snake

The Brown Tree Snake

Contrary to popular belief, venomous snakes in Hawaii are not native to the islands. They are invasive species that were introduced by human activities. One such snake is the Brown Tree Snake.

Originally native to the forests of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia, these snakes made an accidental journey to Hawaii during World War II. With no natural predators in Hawaii, the Brown Tree Snake population faced little resistance, leading to concerns about its potential impact on native bird species.

The Brown Tree Snake is not only an excellent climber but also a generalist predator, feeding on a wide variety of prey, including birds, lizards, and small mammals. Its presence in Hawaii serves as a reminder of the fragile balance of ecosystems and the importance of preventing further introductions of invasive species. Ongoing efforts are in place to monitor and control the spread of the Brown Tree Snake in Hawaii, aiming to mitigate the potential ecological consequences of its presence.

2. The Coqui Conundrum

Coqui Frog
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Another intriguing snake-like creature in Hawaii is the Coqui Frog, a small tree frog native to Puerto Rico. Although not a snake, its distinctive call and elusive nature often lead people to associate it with serpents. The Coqui Frog has made a significant impact on the Hawaiian ecosystem since its unintentional introduction, likely through imported plants or cargo.

Known for its distinctive and incessant “ko-kee” call, the Coqui Frog has become an integral part of the island’s soundscape. While its call can be disruptive to some, the Coqui Frog plays a crucial role in insect control, consuming vast numbers of insects and pests. However, its rapid population growth and potential displacement of native species pose ecological challenges. Ongoing efforts are focused on managing and controlling the Coqui Frog population while preserving the delicate balance of Hawaii’s unique biodiversity.

Legends and Folklore: The Mystical Serpents of Hawaii

In the rich tapestry of Hawaiian culture, snakes hold a unique place in legends and folklore. One such tale is the story of Mo’o, the Hawaiian water dragon. According to ancient Hawaiian beliefs, Mo’o were powerful guardian spirits in the form of large water-dwelling serpents.

These mystical creatures were believed to possess supernatural abilities and were associated with bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, and springs. Today, the legend of Mo’o continues to be passed down through generations, reflecting the deep respect and connection Hawaiians have with their natural surroundings.

Hawaiian Venomous Snakes: Fun Facts

Although Hawaii is known for its lack of native snakes, we can explore some fun facts about the few reptiles that have found their way to the islands.

Snake Species Origin Fun Fact
Brown Tree Snake Papua New Guinea, Australia, Indonesia
  • Brown Tree Snakes have a unique ability to glide through the air, allowing them to move between trees and even glide short distances to the ground.
  • The Brown Tree Snake is mildly venomous but poses no significant threat to humans.
Coqui Frog Puerto Rico
  • Despite being a frog and not a snake, the Coqui Frog is often mistaken for a snake due to its elusive nature and distinctive call.
  • Coqui Frogs have a strong attachment to their breeding sites. They return to the same location every year to lay their eggs, even if they have moved to a different area for feeding.

It’s important to note that these non-native snake species were introduced to Hawaii through human activities and have established small populations. However, encounters with snakes in Hawaii are extremely rare, and they do not pose a significant threat to human safety.

The absence of native snakes in Hawaii has allowed for unique evolutionary adaptations and ecological dynamics, creating an ecosystem unlike any other on Earth. While Hawaii’s wildlife is celebrated for its diversity, it is essential to maintain strict regulations to prevent the introduction of additional invasive species and protect the delicate balance of the island’s ecosystems.

The Conservation Challenge: Protecting Hawaii’s Ecosystems


Managing the presence of invasive species, including venomous snakes, in Hawaii poses a significant conservation challenge. The delicate island ecosystems evolved without the presence of these predators, making them especially vulnerable to their impact.

Efforts are underway to prevent the establishment of invasive snake populations, including strict biosecurity measures at airports and ports to prevent accidental introductions. Public education and awareness campaigns also play a crucial role in preventing the spread of invasive species and protecting the unique biodiversity of Hawaii.


Hawaii’s enchanting beauty extends beyond its picturesque landscapes and vibrant marine life. The presence of venomous snakes adds an intriguing layer to the island’s ecological tapestry. From the accidental arrival of the Brown Tree Snake to the captivating legend of Mo’o, these serpents, whether invasive or mythical, remind us of the intricate web of life and the importance of protecting delicate ecosystems.

As we explore the wonders of Hawaii, let us embrace the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the unique wildlife that calls these islands home. By raising awareness, supporting conservation efforts, and fostering a sense of harmony with nature, we can ensure that future generations will continue to marvel at the awe-inspiring beauty and captivating biodiversity of this tropical paradise we affectionately call Hawaii.

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