ST Dec 30, 2010All I can say is that I feel glad for the snake.
Passing the buck on snake menace
MY DAD came across a 1m snake in the grass area about 10 steps away from the bus stop in Upper Thomson Road on Dec 17.
He told me to call the relevant authorities before the snake slithered to the bus stop, or to the nearby terrace house.
When I contacted the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), the operator transferred me to the unit which she claimed could help in this matter. However, the woman who picked up the call did not even give me three minutes to speak. When she heard 'snake', she said 'Call the police please'.
Meanwhile, a commuter at the bus stop called the police.
I called AVA again and asked the operator if it is indeed the police's job to be catching snakes. She immediately said she will transfer me to corporate affairs but the call was transferred to a mail box instead.
In the next 15 minutes, neither the police nor AVA staff turned up. My dad and I looked on helplessly as the snake slithered back to the bushes and disappeared.
Angela Tang (Ms)
Most likely it was a reticulated python (quite common in Singapore). The police are indeed the right people to catch them, but not all police officers are trained to handle snakes.
Captured snakes are passed on to the Singapore Zoo. The zoo receives so many snakes per year that it cannot possibly keep all of them. The zoo simply releases healthy snakes back into forested areas of Singapore. The less-healthy ones are euthanised.
More rarely, cobras are also found in Singapore. These are pretty nasty fellas and are best avoided. Fortunately they will also tend to avoid human beings. I had a close encounter with a black cobra once (near Kent Ridge Park), and it was spectacularly unforgettable. Big black hood, the head rearing up well above ground level, and all of that - very intimidating. A cobra's hiss sounds nothing like what you might expect a snake's hiss to be like. The sound of a cobra hissing is more like a big dog growling. It's pretty scary.
I don't like venomous snakes, but I'm okay with non-venomous ones. I've handled them and petted them on many occasions.
Other animals which I have fed, handled and petted include stingrays, elephants, lions, koalas, wombats, kangaroos, deer, goats, horses, mynahs, dolphins, alpacas, orang utans, giant tortoises, macaws and pigs. In case you're wondering, I do not go on jungle expeditions or wilderness trips. Many of my encounters have been at places such as the Singapore Zoo, Underwater World and similar places in other countries.
I would like to pet a tiger one day. That would be fun. There's a place in Thailand where you can do that. Click here to see the pictures.
But one of my most beautiful wildlife experiences was to hold a hummingbird in my two hands. The little bird had gotten itself lost and trapped inside a building and had grown exhausted, after hours of fluttering around vainly, beating its head against glass doors trying to get out. I gently picked it up, took it outside and set it free.
A hummingbird is so small, and so delicately and carefully designed by Mother Nature. Its fine, subtly luminous colours remind me of a precious jewel.