Sunday, July 3, 2011

Heroic uncle catches snake with his bare hands at Jurong

Heroic uncle catches snake with his bare hands at Jurong

A courageous man helped to catch a snake hiding in a drain at Block 493 Jurong West yesterday (June 2).

STOMPer Mateen, who witnessed the incident, said in his email yesterday:

"A snake measuring about 1.5m was spotted and caught by a snake catcher at Jurong West Block 493 this evening.

"A huge crowd of people witnessed the whole incident.

"The snake was hiding underneath a drain and it took nearly 30 minutes for the snake catcher to pull it out.

"A courageous uncle even risked his safety and held the neck of the snake.

"Finally, the snake was caught. Fortunately, nobody was hurt."
Heroic uncle catches snake with his bare hands at Jurong
Heroic uncle catches snake with his bare hands at Jurong
Heroic uncle catches snake with his bare hands at Jurong
Heroic uncle catches snake with his bare hands at Jurong

It appears that this man was assisting the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) Wildlife Rescue team in the capture of a python. This is a fairly dramatic account; reticulated pythons (Broghammerus reticulatus) are very strong snakes, and even a fairly small individual might be too much for a single person to handle, especially if the python is able to coil around the person and start constricting. Not to mention the fact that even though pythons are non-venomous, they possess very sharp teeth that are capable of causing nasty bite wounds that are liable to get infected.

Being common in urban areas, reticulated pythons are among the animals most frequently rescued by ACRES. These photos show ACRES Wildlife Rescue officers in the act of catching pythons. The snakes are usually kept under observation for a while, microchipped, and then released in a suitable habitat far from people.

While the person who submitted this article was glad that no humans were injured, I hope the python was properly handled by the man; after all, while it is important to ensure a tight grip on the snake to prevent it from twisting around and biting someone, having too tight a grip will seriously injure the snake, even kill it. Sometimes, it is best to leave it to the experts; amateurs who attempt to help or catch the snakes without waiting for professional help to arrive may end up putting themselves and others in danger.

As an aside, I do get quite annoyed when people portray the capture of a wild animal as a highly dangerous and heroic effort, as if the python in this case had been threatening to slither into the crowd and slaughter everyone that had gathered. True, capturing wildlife always carries some element of risk, and I'm not disparaging the efforts of the man who managed to successfully catch the python and not get bitten/strangled/sprayed with python poo, but honestly, this isn't a king cobra, and at that size, it's not even a particularly large python.

In other words, it's not really a big deal. After all, anyone who grew up in a village or farm would probably have experience wrangling with pythons. If there's anyone who's the real hero, it's the ACRES wildlife rescue officers, who are on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ready to respond to the call to rescue and remove wildlife at risk of being harmed by frightened people.

I think the text isn't really about the man's ability to handle pythons, but rather, reveals a lot about the submitter's urbanite status and lack of exposure to wildlife. If only this story had been examined from a different angle, such as ACRES' efforts in providing a free wildlife rescue service.