Kia‘i Moku: Rats run amok on isles

Rats have plagued Hawaiians for a very long time, and not just the human residents.

Rats were the first invasive species in Hawaii. The first voyagers to the Hawaiian Islands brought Polynesian rats, Rattus exulans, and they spread quickly, colonizing the islands faster and farther than the people. Ancient Hawaii was a world full of spectacular birds, insects, and plants; the only native land mammal didn’t crawl – it flew – the hoary bat.

These native species evolved without seed-eating, egg-stealing rodents, so when rats arrived, plants were defenseless and birds were naive to this new threat. Compounding the situation, the Polynesian rat was followed by other rodents: the Norwegian ship rat and house mouse – hitchhikers in the European and American ships of the late 1700s and 1800s. Rodents ate their way through Hawaii, overrunning the islands from the shore to mountain top, fueled by a diet rich in plants, birds, snails and insects.

According to Peter Dunlevy, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service biologist with 15 years of experience researching rats, the greatest impact isn’t on any one particular area. Rats hammer numerous aspects of the environment – from the seeds they devour to the nesting albatross they attack. “But everything is on such a small scale with rodents; it’s easy to overlook.”

Learn the fundamentals before flying with fruit – Hawaii News – Starbulletin


By June Watanabe

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 20, 2009

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Question: Can you tell me what the rules are regarding flying to and from Hawaii with fruit? I recently went to the mainland. I thought that if I cut some mango to eat on the plane, it would be allowed since there was no peel and no seed. To my surprise, my plastic container of mango was confiscated at Honolulu Airport. The (Transportation Security Administration) guy told me that mango was only allowed out if it was frozen. But who wants frozen mango? I was in Portland, Ore., where there were so many really fresh summer fruit that we don’t grow here in Hawaii, like peaches and berries. But after my mango experience, I was afraid to bring any fruit home.

Answer: You can find travel and shipping information on what you can and cannot take out or bring into Hawaii at the state Department of Agriculture’s Web site,

There are links to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which regulates what can be taken out of Hawaii; to Homeland Security (Customs and immigration), which regulates foreign fruits and vegetables; as well as to the state Agriculture Department’s information about what you are allowed to bring into Hawaii.

According to an official at the APHIS office at Honolulu Airport, you can’t take the majority of fresh fruits out of Hawaii. You either have to freeze or pickle the fruits. In the case of mangoes, you have to get rid of the seed as well.

If you have questions about what you can carry with you on an airplane leaving Hawaii, check the Web site or just call the APHIS office at 834-3220.

It’s a totally different matter if you’re bringing fruit back from the mainland. Basically, you can bring back most fresh fruits — apples, peaches, California oranges, berries, etc., as long as you declare and present them for inspection, according to a state agriculture spokeswoman.