News

'Mama, your tail was moving'

Housewife bitten by snake in Sims Avenue home. Daughter says...

THE TRAUMA

She had just sat down on the toilet bowl when she felt a sharp pain.

She looked down and saw a 1.8m-long python writhing in the toilet bowl, its jaws clamped on the back of her right thigh.

Petrified, Madam Noraslinda Asat, 34, screamed.

Her husband had seen the shadow of the snake through the foldable plastic door.

He said it was as thick as his forearm.

Mr Mohammad Fitri Kassim, also 34, who is self-employed, recounted the incident which happened last Thursday evening.

She was in the bathroom of the master bedroom of their first-storey Block 826 Eunosville home at Sims Avenue.

Madam Noraslinda said she had just sat down when she heard a soft bubbling noise, and felt a pain. The housewife said: "I looked down and it was a snake."

She stood up and tried to grab the snake but its body was so wide, it kept slipping out of her grip.

She said: "So I grabbed the head and pulled it off of me. Then I backed out of the toilet and shut the door."

Their four-year-old daughter, Adriana, who had used the toilet five minutes earlier without incident, told Madam Noraslinda: "Mama, your tail was moving."

After her shock, Madam Noraslinda felt weak and drowsy, so Mr Fitri called an ambulance, which took her to Changi General Hospital, where she was given an injection and discharged.

Doctors and nurses praised her bravery. They said "most girls would have fainted", said Mr Fitri.

Describing the snake, Madam Noraslinda said: "It was brown, with patches of dark brown. I could tell it was a python. It was really long, I couldn't even see its tail in the toilet bowl."

Officers from the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society were called by the police to capture the snake.

They searched the house but could not find the python, so the officers suspected it had slid back into the toilet bowl, said Mr Fitri.

Madam Noraslinda also called her brother's friend, a pest controller, for help.

He arrived close to midnightand with Mr Fitri, checked the manhole outside the unit.

"We opened it and the snake's head was there," said Mr Fitri.

"The python looked tired and scared," said the pest controller, who declined to be named.

"I managed to grab part of its tail but it slipped out of my grip and disappeared into a crack."

Madam Noraslinda's mother, Madam Fatimah Bee, 66,said she, too, had seen a snake in their common toilet. This was two weeks before Madam Noraslinda was bitten.

"I thought I saw a snake's head going back inside the toilet bowl," she said.

Following that sighting, Madam Fatimah poured pots of hot water down the toilet bowl, put the lid down and put bricks on top.

After Madam Noraslinda's scare, Mr Fitri has also been pouring hot water, sometimes with bleach, into both toilet bowls.

The couple recalled that in March, a circular from the management warned residents about a snake sighting near Block 832, which is just behind their block.

"We don't know if the other snake was caught, but this one has not been, so posters should be put up to alert residents," said Mr Fitri.

The condominium's management committee declined to comment.

THE PHOBIA

Madam Noraslinda now has a phobia about using either of her home's two toilets.

She is so traumatised that she has been using toilets at petrol kiosks, coffee shops and other public areas.

"I still feel very scared, because the snake is not caught," she said.

When The New Paper visited their home, Madam Noraslinda was hesitant to step into the toilet alone. She did not eat for three days after the incident, wary of having to go to the toilet.

"We bought food for her, but she didn't want to eat," said Mr Fitri.

Madam Fatimah empathised with her.

"I just saw a bit, and I also have a phobia," she said.

Madam Noraslinda's puncture wound has been healing, though she now walks with a slight limp.

"On the first day, there were bruises and swelling, but now, one of the puncture wounds is starting to heal," said Madam Noraslinda.

Apart from being their two-year-old son Aryan's birthday, the day now holds another significance.

"I will definitely not forget this day, May 1," said Madam Noraslinda, shuddering slightly.


I grabbed the head and pulled it off of me. Then I backed out of the toilet and shut the door.

- Madam Noraslinda Asat, 34

Python could have been finding way out

Miss Anbarasi Boopal, 31, Acres' group director of wildlife, said it's rare for a python to be in residential areas, and that Acres sees about one a year.

Pythons are usually seen in canals as their diet is mostly made up of rats, she said.

She added: "Pythons are very shy of people and will go into hiding when they see them."

Mr Azlam Shah, 33, manager at pest control company Clean Solutions, said he has never encountered a case of a snake in a toilet bowl, but has found them in homes before.

"Mostly we attend to cases of pythons. In this case a 1.8m-long python is quite big," said Mr Azlam. His previous cases involved pythons about half-a-metre long.

"In a year, we will encounter around three cases where snakes are found inside a house," said Mr Azlam.

Since the python in this case appeared in a toilet bowl, Mr Azlam believes that it may have gotten lost while finding a way out.

ENTRY THROUGH BROKEN PIPES?

Mr Ricky Tan, 59, treasurer of the Singapore Plumbing Society, said: "Snakes like to go into holes, so they will enter holes of underground pipes that are broken or damaged.

"They will make their way through the pipes and into drainage pipes, which will lead to toilet bowls."

He has been a plumber for close to 40 years and has seen around 10 cases of snakes in toilet bowls.

Pythons are generally defensive by nature, but may attack when provoked, said Mr Azlam.

"Depending on whether they have been fed or are being provoked, their level of aggressiveness varies," he added.

Pythons that have just been fed tend to coil up and not move around.

If you encounter a python, call a pest control company immediately.

Mr Azlam had this advice: "If you are trying to get it off you after being bitten, make sure they don't coil onto any of your body parts, if not they will squeeze until your blood cannot circulate. Get someone to pull and hold on to the tail.

"It may not let go easily, so try to force it to open its mouth. But remember to hold on to the head so that it will not bite another body part."

TREATING SNAKE BITES

Bites from non-venomous snakes would be like any puncture wound, said emergency physician, Dr Charles Johnson, 46.

"The problem with puncture wounds is that it is difficult to get it completely clean," he said.

Puncture wounds do not bleed a lot, unlike knife wounds, but they can be more prone to infection.

Dr Johnson said: "It is difficult to clean up, and snake saliva may contain bacteria."

It would be advisable to get a tetanus vaccination, he said.

"Tetanus is a bacteria commonly found in soil, so if the patient has had no vaccination in the past five to 10 years, they should get one," he said.

PAST CASES

JUNE 2012

A 3.7m-long python was found curled up in the engine compartment of a taxi parked in the open-air carpark next to Block 313, Shunfu Road.

The reticulated python was captured by rescue officers from Acres.

DECEMBER 2009

A 3m-long python was found in a second-storey Changi home. The reptile was removed by pest controllers.

JULY 2009

A grey python with green spots appeared in the master bedroom of a 12th-storey flat at Block 409, Tampines Street 41.

The family caught the python in a pillowcase, tied a knot and placed it in an empty fish tank. The family released it into a forested area in Mandai.