2 public sightings of python daily: Acres

AVA said 700 cases of public feedback on snakes received between January and October this year
WONG PEI TING Today Online 1 Dec 16;

SINGAPORE — Monsoon season is here and the Republic’s shy population of pythons could be seen more frequently emerging from swelling canals and drains, going by recent images of snake sightings that went viral online.

Last Sunday (Nov 27), one household living in a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat beside a canal in central Singapore woke up to the shocking sight of a two-to-three metre long python climbing up their neighbour’s gate. That image was shared more than 5,000 times.

On Monday, Ms Nazirah Isabella saw a cat being devoured by a python in a canal in the Jalan Besar area. Her photo on Twitter was shared more than 250 times.

Between January and October this year, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore said it has logged 700 cases of public feedback on snakes. These feedback could be related to complaints, sightings or questions. Last year, it received 780 cases of feedback, and 610 cases in 2014.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) said it receives an average of two calls a day of public sightings of reticulated pythons. And about once a month, it also gets calls from cat-lovers of felines “getting into conflict” with a python.

Urging the public not to be afraid of these creatures that like to stay around water bodies, Acres deputy chief executive Kalai Balakrishnan said: “Singapore is an urban setting (where most of our rivers have been canalised), so canals are a natural habitat for many wild animals including pythons (which) use it as a path to travel through.”

These animals are just travelling around looking for food, so there is no cause for alarm if they are spotted in canals, he added.

If sighted, his advice is to give them a two-to-three metre berth, do not enter the canals to provoke the animals, and give the Acres’ hotline a call so their officer can advise on what to do or send a photo to Acres’ wildlife rescue team with the location of the sighting. The organisation will assess if it needs to despatch a team to relocate the animal “back into the wild”.

The AVA spokesman also advises the public to “not interact with the animal, and ensure that young children and pets are kept away as they may be curious and approach it”.

Indonesian maid Madam Casmiati Sanwikarta felt her legs turn to jelly when she saw a snake on Sunday. She told TODAY: “I imagined that it was biting my leg. My leg, no energy!”

The 48-year-old who was heading to the market at 5.30am retreated indoors. Her employers’ two daughters took turns to look through the peephole at how the snake was slithering up their neighbour’s gate, until the Acres’ team removed it around 7am.

“I thought it was my imagination because I just woke up,” said 13-year-old Clariss Lee, who snapped a picture to convince herself it was real.

In the Jalan Besar incident, Ms Nazirah posted the photo of a python eating a cat under her Twitter handle LollyNia. The 21-year-old salesgirl told TODAY that she was shocked to see that the python “was still moving like (it was) choking” the lifeless-looking cat whose head was in the water.

Commenting on why cats get into trouble more often, Mr Balakrishnan said: “Cats are curious, so when they go closer, the pythons might take it as a meal (as) they are opportunistic in nature.”

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