Published 6:06 AM EDT, Mon September 18, 2023
A surfer who rode the waves with his pet python has been fined by Australian authorities for taking the snake out in public after a video of the duo’s unusual adventures aired on local media.
Higor Fiuza and his carpet python Shiva were frequently seen at beaches on the Gold Coast, a tourist hotspot on the country’s east coast, according to CNN affiliate Nine News.
Shiva, who would wrap herself around Fiuza’s neck or dangle on the edge of his board, appeared to enjoy the sport, her owner told Nine News earlier this month.
“She goes for a swim a little bit and then comes back to the board. She’s just cruising waiting for a wave … for the perfect wave,” he said.
But the good times weren’t to last as Fiuza has been slapped with a fine of around $1,500 for breaching the terms of his pet’s license, according to a statement from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science.
While he held the correct permit to keep the reptile, he was not allowed to remove it from its licensed premises, the statement said.
“The man was brought to our attention when he appeared in local media taking his python into the surf,” said senior wildlife officer Jonathan McDonald. “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.”
Officials were concerned about Shiva’s well-being, he added.
“Snakes are obviously cold-blooded animals, and while they can swim, reptiles generally avoid water,” he said. “The python would have found the water to be extremely cold, and the only snakes that should be in the ocean are sea snakes.”
Carpet pythons can grow up to 4 meters (13 feet) in length, though most don’t exceed 2.5 meters, according to the Queensland government. The non-venomous species lives almost everywhere in Australia except Tasmania and mostly eats smaller animals such as rats, possums, birds and lizards.
Fuiza previously told Nine News he believed Shiva enjoyed the water, saying she never hissed while surfing – something she does when annoyed.
“(I) go under the water and come up and she’s just there,” he said. “Never put out my hand to save her or anything.”