A Virginia man found a small snake slithering out of his backpack while on vacation in Maui, Hawaii.

The non-venomous black racer snake was discovered when the man was staying at a rental in Pukalani. It was believed to have found its way into his carry-on luggage when he was waiting to board his flight to Hawaii at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Florida. It went undetected till the 20-year-old man opened his backpack during his vacation.

Since keeping snakes in private or commercial properties was illegal in the state, the Native Ecosystem Protection Management was alerted, which arrived at the scene with the police. The reptile was transported to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) early Tuesday morning, where it was to remain till it was transported to Honolulu.

“The brown-colored snake appears to be a newborn measuring about a foot long and 1/4 inch in diameter. They are mainly found in Florida and the eastern half of the U.S. and may grow up to six feet in length. Their diet consists of mainly frogs, lizards, snakes, rodents, birds and their eggs,” a joint news release from HDOA and Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said.

The owner of the rental was questioned about the incident and he confirmed the snake was indeed a stowaway and not intentionally transferred to Hawaii.

“It is fortunate that the owner of the rental was aware of the seriousness of the snake being transported to Hawaii and took appropriate action and reported it,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “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.”

Snakes pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment as they have no natural predators there. They feast on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered species.

“Be informed about the very special place you live that is Hawaii,” said Dr. Fern Duvall, program manager of the Native Ecosystem Protection Management. “We should pay attention to what plants and animals we see – report things you feel are new to you as prevention is so much more important than having to react to established foreign pests out of control.”