Viral Stint of Surfing with Pet Snake: The man who captured the internet’s attention by riding the waves with his beloved snake wrapped around his neck has been slapped with a hefty fine following the discovery of his online videos.
Higor Fiuza became an overnight sensation after sharing footage of himself and his 3-year-old Bredl’s carpet python, Shiva, conquering the surf off the Australian coast. However, Fiuza’s newfound fame has come at a cost, as Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science has imposed a penalty of $2,322 AUD—equivalent to $1,495 USD—for his failure to possess the appropriate permit.
“The man came to our notice when he made headlines in local media for taking his python into the surf,” stated Jonathan McDonald, a senior wildlife officer from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science.
“Our investigation revealed that the man held a permit for keeping native animals. Nevertheless, he received a Penalty Infringement Notice for violating section 88a of the Nature Conservation Act.”
This particular law stipulates that pets like Bredl’s carpet pythons cannot be removed from their designated premises, except in specific circumstances such as veterinary visits or animal sales. Bredl’s carpet pythons are non-venomous snakes native to Australia’s Northern Territory.
“To publicly exhibit or display an animal, a separate permit from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is required,” McDonald explained. “We discourage permit holders from showcasing their native animals in public unless it serves a specific approved purpose and ensures the animal’s welfare, public safety, and compliance with relevant regulations.”
There were concerns that exposing the snake to public environments could cause stress and potentially facilitate the transmission of diseases.
“Taking native pets out in public can subject them to unnecessary stress, and their behavior can become unpredictable when they are taken out of their enclosures,” McDonald cautioned.
Another aspect of worry pertained to the welfare of the snake, considering that it is a cold-blooded reptile and thus more susceptible to feeling cold quickly than humans.
“Snakes are ectothermic creatures, so being in that cold, salty water can undoubtedly cause significant stress to the snake,” shared Tim Hudson of Hudson Snake Catching Gold Coast and Hinterland with local news outlet 7NEWS in early September.
“Snakes are intricately tied to their environment, and when they are exposed to the cold, salty surf, it can significantly impact their well-being.”
However, Fiuza remains adamant that Shiva enjoys the thrill of surfing.
“I have always taken her to the beach, and she loves swimming in the water. So one day, I decided to take her out for a surf, and she absolutely loved it,” Fiuza shared with ABC Australia during his initial rise to stardom. “Usually, when she doesn’t like something, she starts hissing, but in the water, she remains calm.”
“She’s an extraordinary snake,” he added, praising Shiva’s unique personality.
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