Singapore

Acres female officer, volunteer praised for their snake-catching skills

An Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres) officer and a volunteer have been praised for their bravery after they were shown in viral videos wresting large snakes out of a drain and from a construction site.

The videos, posted on Facebook page Everyday SG on Friday (Oct 13), have been viewed almost 50,000 times collectively.

The women shown in the videos are Ms Carmen Choong, a 24-year-old rescue officer with Acres, and a volunteer who was identified only as Rebecca.

Mr Kalai Vanan, Acres' deputy chief executive officer, told The Straits Times that both instances occurred on Monday. The snakes were estimated to be about 2 to 3m long.

The incident in the drain happened in the Jurong area, while the other rescue was conducted in Bukit Batok, at a construction site.

"The snakes in both cases are our native reticulated pythons," he said. "The python from the drain had eaten something. We can only conclude from X-rays but typically, the animal should be a cat."

Mr Kalai said snakes like pythons should ideally not be removed from drains and canals as these are their natural habitat, but in this case the drain was being cleaned.

"We had to remove the snake for the safety of the reptile and respective staff who were cleaning the drains," he said.

In the video of the Jurong incident, the volunteer was shown inside the drain, being guided by Ms Choong.

She grabbed the head of the snake and the volunteer helped lift the large python onto the pavement.

The reptile, which had a visibly engorged mid-section, was placed in a carrier.

The other clip of the Bukit Batok rescue showed the same two women reaching under a concrete slab to pull out a large python.

After some struggling, they managed to extract the snake, with a bystander saying an emphatic "well done".

Facebook user Anthony Bandarasamy praised the women for their "amazing skills", while Evelyn Cosido called them "brave".

Ms Choong told ST that handling snakes is normal for her, and she does it once or twice per day.

"Most people will be afraid but for me I like snakes and have liked them since I was young," she said.

Ms Choong graduated from James Cook University with a degree in Business and Environmental Science last year, but chose to volunteer with Acres as she wanted to work with wildlife.

She took on a full-time job with them after volunteering.

Asked about the unusual sight of two women rescuing a snake, Ms Choong said: "We do get a mix of male and female volunteers, but it just happened that there were two females on that day."

She added: "Most people are just amazed there are snakes in Singapore."

Both snakes were handed over to the zoo to be microchipped before release back into the wild.

Mr Kalai said this case showed how development works in Singapore can often leave wild animals stranded.

He said that the snakes in both cases were handled well, adding: "We thank the public for keeping an eye on the snakes."

Reticulated pythons are common in Singapore, measuring 2.3m long on average. They are very rarely longer than 4m.

Just last month, a python was spotted in a toilet bowl at a motor parts store in Upper Thomson.

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