News

So plump, it gets stuck in drain hole

Reptiles turning up in the oddest places

She was on her way to help with a fund raising sale at her son's school when a crowd of about 20 people drew her attention.

Curious, Madam Clara John went to investigate and found that they were looking at a python in a canal.

"I've seen snakes around army camps before, but I was surprised to see one here, especially outside a school," said Madam John, 39, who is a parent volunteer at St Gabriel's Primary School in Lorong Chuan.

The python was more than 2m long and appeared to be stuck in a drainage hole along the walls of the storm drain outside the primary school.

A resident in his 40s, who wanted to be known only as Mark, had spotted the reptile at about 8.45am yesterday and alerted both the National Environment Agency and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

STUCK

According to him, the python had been trying to squeeze into the drainage hole for more than an hour, to no avail.

Miss Lee Pei Shan, a wildlife rescue officer from the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) who was at the scene, believes it was probably a case of the python biting off more than it can chew.

She said the python had probably eaten a rat and the resulting bump caused it to become stuck when the typically nocturnal animal tried to find a place to rest for the day.

Miss Lee, 24, said that in an urban environment like Singapore, storm canals have become natural habitats for pythons as they provide shelter and a good source of food.

Acres officers arrived at about 10am to check on the python and release it.

They directed it towards the main canal and away from the public eye after the reptile retracted out of the hole and swam away.

Miss Anbarasi Boopal, 31, Acres' group director of wildlife, said pythons use waterbodies like canals to move around and it was alright to let them be.

"When pythons see a crowd, they try to go into hiding. Most likely, this python was trying to hide, but unfortunately got itself stuck," she said.

Madam John remained at the scene for about three hours until the snake left, concerned that it would pose a threat to the pupils and she stayed to make sure the python did not enter the school.

"Boys being boys, if they see the snake, they might throw things at it and provoke it," she said. "I was worried the pupils might get bitten."

Miss Lee told TNP that pythons posed no danger to humans.

She said: "Their biggest prey here are probably cats. They won't attack unless provoked. If people keep their distance, respect them, give them a place to move around, they'll mind their own business."


WHEN YOU SEE A WILD ANIMAL

If the animal appears injured or is found in someone's property with no way out, call Acres' Wildlife Rescue Hotline at 9783-7781.

So big, neighbours thought it was komodo

The reptile, which measured about a metre long, hung perfectly still above his neighbour's gate.

Mr Ganwani Lachman, 58, a sales manager, thought it was fake when he saw it around 1.30pm on Tuesday. "It didn't look real to me at first. It looked like a dummy", he told The New Paper.

Nevertheless, it attracted a lot of attention from 15 to 20 neighbours, who gathered excitedly outside the first-storey unit of Block 425, Canberra Road in Sembawang.

One of them even thought the reptile, a monitor lizard, was a komodo dragon.

Mr Lachman, who was on his way to lunch with his wife, snapped a few photos of the lizard, then left.

When they arrived home later around 7pm, the lizard was gone.

At about 8pm, Mrs Sirya Lachman, also 58, went to the rubbish chute outside their eighth-storey flat.

On her way back, the businesswoman noticed another crowd of 20 to 25 people gathered downstairs.

The lizard was back and had made itself comfortable on the gate of the unit next to where it was first spotted.

About 20 to 25 minutes later, officers from the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres) arrived to take the reptile away. Acres said the lizard was a clouded monitor lizard, one of two species commonly found in Singapore.

It does not pose any danger unless provoked and, while it is carnivorous, feeds on only dead animal matter and the occasional small bird or egg.

If threatened, it may turn aggressive and whip its tail at attackers. It has also been known to bite if intimidated.