Monday, June 6, 2011

Python spotted in Bukit Panjang drain during heavy downpour

Python spotted in Bukit Panjang drain during heavy downpour

STOMPer Baihe saw this python in a drain at Bukit Panjang at about 9am yesterday (June 5).

The snake might have sought refuge in the drain during the heavy rain.

Said the STOMPer:

"A huge python was spotted in a drain in front of Block 402 Bukit Panjang at about 9am today (June 5).

"Due to the heavy downpour and quick current, it was washed down into the reservoir.

"I hope it doesn't appear in the swimming pool beside the reservoir."
I am wondering if the recent spate of heavy rains and flooding will lead to an increase in encounters with snakes, especially if they have been displaced from their burrows by rising waters and are in search of higher ground. Reticulated pythons (Broghammerus reticulatus) in particular seem especially vulnerable, since they travel using our extensive network of drains, canals and sewers, and are probably among the first to be flushed out once these channels are flooded. The photo here seems to show the python attempting to crawl up the presumably wet and slippery walls of the drain. Even if it was washed further downstream, I suppose it was not in any grave danger; pythons are very strong swimmers, and have been seen swimming in the open sea.

(Photo by shirl6900)

What worries me about a possible increase of snake sightings is what will happen to these snakes should they be spotted by people with an irrational and paranoid aversion to snakes; it both astounds and saddens me when I hear of people with extremely intolerant attitudes towards wildlife, but snakes in particular seem to get it the worst. It seems as if some people think that all snakes are venomous, and even if that was not the case, that snakes do not have the right to live alongside human beings and should not be allowed to wander out of the forest.

These individuals fail to understand that wild animals cannot be constrained and made to respect human-made boundaries. And after all, for every snake that is seen, there are probably many more in our midst that have managed to remain undetected, and it's not as if Singapore is crawling with venomous snakes, all waiting to strike at our legs if we are not wary. In comparison, people living in cities and suburbs of Australia are familiar with many species of potentially deadly snakes, but we don't see a blitzkrieg, in which every snake in sight, regardless of whether it is dangerous or not, is ruthlessly and mercilessly slaughtered. Seeing the attitudes displayed by many ignorant people in Singapore, I do get upset to think about how much more needs to be done for people to take a more enlightened and practical stance towards living with snakes.

Splint was tied and beaten up, suffered from multiple open wounds and an open fracture, and eventually died despite surgery;
(Photo by ACRES)

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Wildlife Rescue team handles a lot of reticulated python relocation cases, and while most pythons are safely caught then released in a suitable habitat far from human disturbance, there are some which are not so lucky, having been wounded or even killed outright by people.

Patrick was strangled with metal wires;
(Photo by ACRES)

I am reminded of an incident from the end of last month in which a python, sluggish after a heavy meal and unable to defend itself effectively, was strangled with metal wire; from the photos, it definitely appears that it was a deliberate act; other recent incidents have involved pythons being caught with a noose and then beaten before the Wildlife Rescue team arrived on the scene. And sometimes, efforts to remove the python in the absence of trained wildlife professionals backfire, with tragic consequences for the snake.

Shepherd, killed by rough handling and use of chemicals by pest control;
(Photo by ACRES)