A man who went viral after he was filmed surfing with his pet python has been fined more than 2,000 Australian dollars for taking the reptile out in public.
Higor Fiuza, from the Gold Coast in Australia, had caught the waves off Rainbow Bay at least 10 times with his morelia bredli python called Shiva, according to Australian news reports.
After footage of his surfing exploits was shared widely online, Mr Fiuza told the news channel 9News: “(The snake) goes for a swim a little and then comes back to the board – just cruising waiting for a wave – for the perfect wave.”
Mr Fiuza said the snake appeared to enjoy the water because she would never hiss while out on the waves – something she would do when annoyed.
However, wildlife officers from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science were concerned for Shiva’s welfare after seeing the video.
Jonathan McDonald, one of the wildlife officers, said: “Snakes are obviously cold-blooded animals, and 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 that while Mr Fiuza had the correct permit to keep the snake, he did not have a permit to take it out of his property.
Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science said Mr Fiuza has been fined 2,322 Australian dollars (£1,207) for taking the reptile out in public without permission.
Mr McDonald added: “The man was brought to our attention when he appeared in local media taking his python into the surf.
“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.
“Taking native pets out in public can cause the animals unnecessary stress, and they can behave in an unpredictable way when they are removed from their enclosures.”