A visitor who thought boa constrictors were native to South Carolina released one in a Midlands park, according to officials. The visitor was under the impression boa constrictors already were in the park and established. Neither is true, park officials said. Congaree National Park officials added it is never appropriate or legal to release a non-native — or even a native — species in the park.
“Even native species that have been rehabilitated may have picked up diseases while in recovery that can decimate populations within a range, as well as doing great harm to other animals populations,” the park posted on its Facebook page. Anyone walking on park trails who sees the boa should report it to the park staff immediately.”
Congaree National Park, in central South Carolina, is a 26,276-acre tract that was designated in 2003. Boa constrictors are native to Central and South America. They can grow up to 13-feet long, weigh more than 100 pounds and live up to 30 years. They also can give birth to up to 60 live babies. The Congaree Park boa constrictor is far from the first non-native species introduced in South Carolina. Here are a few others, according to the S.C. DNR:
Patagonian cavy. Since the early 2000s, Natural Resources occasionally have received calls and emails about strange-looking rodents in the Edgefield County area. The department suspects the Argentinian Patagonian cavy, which has rabbit- and kangaroo-like features, first was released in South Carolina by a pet owner.
Mediterranean Gecko. The 4-inch-long lizards, common in southern Europe and northern Africa, probably arrived through South Carolina’s ports. Generally light gray, they often are found around buildings with outdoor lights, typically in metropolitan areas like Columbia and Charleston.