A viral video shared on social media, which appears to have been deleted, showed surfer Higor Fiuza enjoying the water at Rainbow Bay in Coolangatta with his pet carpet python named Shiva draped freely over his shoulder.
Wildlife officers from the Department of Environment and Science have since investigated the incident and fined the surfer for the seemingly innocent ocean surf. As it turns out, allowing the native bredli python at the beach, away from Higor’s residence, is a breach of his permit which allows him to keep the snake as a pet.
Python not permitted to leave home
Mr Fiuza was slapped with a fine on Thursday for breaching section 88a of the Nature Conservation Act after authorities were notified of the incident. Senior Wildlife Officer Jonathan McDonald said the surfing duo were brought to the department’s attention after Mr Fiuza spoke to local media.
“Permit holders are not allowed to take animals from their licensed premises unless taking them to a vet or, selling or giving the animal to another permit holder or taking it to an authorised display,” Mr McDonald explained.
To take an animal out in public or display it requires a separate permit from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the department said.
“We do not want permit holders to be displaying their native animals in public unless it is done for a specific approved purpose and in a way that best provides for the welfare of the animal, the safety of the public and complies with the relevant codes.”
Public outings may cause ‘unnecessary stress’
Taking native pets out in public can cause the animals “unnecessary stress” which can lead to unpredictable behaviour, the department warned.
“There is also the threat of spreading diseases to native wildlife when people take captive-bred reptiles out in public,” Mr McDonald added.
Snakes generally avoid water
Last month, Mr Fiuza told the ABC that Siva “loved to be in the water”. But being cold-blooded animals, the department said “while they can swim, reptiles generally avoid water”.
“The python would have found the water to be extremely cold, and the only snakes that should be in the ocean are sea snakes,” Mr McDonald said.
Mr Fiuza was also issued a warning for not updating his online record book in relation to the ownership of the python.
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