The Australian man who made waves on social media with clips of his surfing partner, a carpet python, has been fined $1,500 after the viral video reached wildlife officials.
Higor Fiuza, a Rainbow Bay surfer, raised eyebrows earlier this month when he filmed himself surfing with his 3-year-old python, Shiva, who enjoyed the outings wrapped around his body.
“She goes for a swim a little and then comes back to the board — just cruising waiting for a wave, for the perfect wave,” he told local 9News.
While the surfer and snake were busy hanging loose, Fiuza’s instant fame on Instagram and the news had gotten the attention of Australian authorities, who handed him the $1,500 fine Thursday.
Jonathan McDonald, senior wildlife officer at the Department of Environment and Science, said that while Fiuza had the proper permit to take care of the python, he lacked the special license to freely travel with the serpent.
“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,” McDonald said in a statement.
“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.”
Officials have said they are concerned about Shiva’s well-being given that the cold-blooded species generally avoid the ocean, save for sea snakes.
Fiuza has previously said he only kept the snake on the beach until it appeared to enjoy swimming in the water.
He claims that while she tends to hiss whenever she’s uncomfortable, she has not done so once during their surfing trips.
The video of the pair’s surfing exploits have been taken down from Instagram, with Fiuza’s account now private.
Carpet pythons are fairly common across Australia, with the non-venomous snakes typically growing to about 8.2 feet long, according to the Department of Environment and Science.
Some carpet pythons, however, have been known to reach up to 13 feet long.