Handling Snakes in Singapore

Handling Snakes – Snakes have been frequently making the news in Singapore. Singapore is filled with green plants and colourful flowers; this landscape not only fascinates the public but also attracts a wide range of wildlife around the area. As a tropical country, it is not uncommon to encounter snakes in Singapore and urbanisation has forced them to live in close proximity to houses and buildings. The encounter with a snake can be a surprise, hence, it is important to be educated and to understand the basics of how to handling snakes.

It is easy for us to differentiate snakes from other wildlife, but most of us have little knowledge on their species, biology, behaviour and most importantly, whether they are venomous or not.

6 common snakes found in Singapore:

  • Banded Kraits (Bungarus Fasciatus), one of the venomous snakes that prey primarily on rodents, cats, lizards, and fish. This species is nocturnal and usually can be spotted near rodent holes, termite mounds and places close to water.
  • Banded Malayan Coral Snakes (Calliophis intestinalis), venomous snakes which are active at night and prey on other snake species. They are usually spotted at forests, parks and gardens.
  • Black Spitting Cobras (Naja sumatrana), spit venom when they feel threatened and they aim their venom at the victim’s eyes. They are also nocturnal species, feed on rodents and amphibians, and can be found in cooler places like shelters, drains and garden walls.cobra snake
  • King Cobras (Ophiophagus hannah), the largest venomous snakes in the world are very different compared to other venomous snakes. If encountered, it is best to stay clear of its path and move away quickly as a bite and venom from this snake can be fatal. King Cobras can be seen in forests or lowland areas to areas of high elevation.
  • Oriental Whip Snakes (Ahaetulla prasina), not all are venomous and the venomous ones will not result in death. Their venoms are not strong enough to kill a human. Small birds, frogs and lizards usually fall prey to this snake. This species can be found in forests, parks, residential areas with trees and amongst vegetation.
  • Reticulated Pythons (Malayopython reticulatus), non-venomous and active mostly at night from low land to highland, mangroves, forests and drain canals. Although they may not be venomous, they are still able to bite and suffocate their victim.

Handling snakes by Killem

Many agencies like Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) are dedicated to protecting and educating the community about wildlife. Killem is no stranger to wildlife and handling snakes, working closely with these agencies to ensure that these animals are handled with care and handed over to them. Our PCOs are kept updated on any changes and continually attend seminars like the Wildlife Handling Seminar organised by the Singapore Pest Management Association (SPMA).

Our PCOs are trained in using a variety of equipment to trapping and handling snakes safely and humanely. Snake tongs is a piece of equipment with a long pole which ensures a safe distance from the head of the snake. The controllable jaws at the end of the grabber help to lift or drag the snake away firmly and gently. Besides snake tongs, other ways snakes can be captured include using towels, bags, pillow cases and dustbins.

Venomous snakes require more caution when handling compared to non-venomous snakes as they differ in terms of movement and behaviour where the former moves its head before moving its body. From our experience, snakes should never be restrained at the head or by its tail. This is because these are their sensitive regions, restraining their head and tail can provoke their aggressive behaviour as they feel threatened. Restrained or temporarily captured venomous snakes should always be labelled, as some can spit venom up to 2m and even chew through the bags they are contained in.

What to do when you encounter a snake?

Snakes are not as terrifying as they seem. By knowing what to do when you encounter them, no harm will be done to you or the snakes. Always remind yourself to remain calm and do not panic when seeing a snake. Panicking may cause you to make the wrong decisions. The snake may be startled or provoked by your actions thus causing them to attack you. Snakes usually have no interest in humans as they usually prey on other small animals. It is likely for snakes to flee when they see humans, so you should also walk away from them if possible.

Handling snakes on your own is not a very good idea. Seeking help from professionals will be the right way. If you ever get bitten by a snake, it is important that you stay calm and seek immediate medical attention.  You might have probably seen someone sucking out snake venom from a victim in a movie scene. However, in the reality, it is almost impossible to suck the venom out as it spreads quickly and efficiently in the lymphatic system. The best thing to do in case you get bitten by snakes is to minimize movement and call a doctor or an ambulance immediately.


Wildlife in Singapore

How to Handle Wildlife in Singapore

Wildlife in Singapore – The landscape in Singapore is built and maintained such that wildlife co-exist with the people living around their habitat very closely. With limited living spaces, it is not uncommon to find a monitor lizard crawling near concrete buildings that are close to parks and woodland, or for wild boars to be seen crossing roads in quiet residential areas. There are signs in places like parks to ensure that people are warned of probable encounters with wildlife and to stop feeding or disturbing them. These animals forage beyond their homes, lurking near food sources left by people. They may not be the dangerous wild elephants or tigers found in other Asian countries, but wildlife in Singapore can become a threat if encounters are not handled appropriately.

Wildlife in Singapore: Protection and education

Many agencies like Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) are dedicated to protecting and educating the community about wildlife. Killem is no stranger to wildlife, working closely with these agencies to ensure that these animals are handled with care and handed over to them. Killem’s Pest Control Officers (PCO) have many run-ins with wild snakes, monitor lizards and many other animals. They are competent in handling any situation, always ready with their protective equipment and abide by the law and acts pertaining to the wildlife in Singapore.

boar wildlife in singapore

Our PCOs are kept updated on any changes and continually attend seminars like the Wildlife Handling Seminar[1] organised by the Singapore Pest Management Association (SPMA) in June this year. Dr Abraham Mathew, who is a senior veterinarian and wildlife expert from WRS, conducted a meaningful seminar that was attended by 8 of Killem’s representatives. He was very wilful in sharing his thoughts and techniques on handling wildlife in Singapore to ensure the safety of both the people and especially the animals. It was an eye opener for many as we learned that animals are just as afraid of us as we are of them, finding ways to protect themselves in fear of harm. The ways in which people can protect themselves are as simple as moving away and placing space between animals and not making quick or sudden movements.

Wildlife in Singapore: Snakes

One of the more feared and underappreciated animals are snakes but Dr Abraham Mathew was able to place confidence in us with techniques and pointers at handling them. Like many, we were concerned of snake bites as Singapore is home to both venomous and non-venomous snakes. The non-venomous kinds leave a row of bite marks when bitten, evidence that they don’t have venom. Concern rises when it’s a venomous snake that has bitten where the snake leaves two fang punctures and starts to chew. Even though the venom is for digesting its food, people once bitten should get immediate help. Our PCOs realised how the situation can be handled without any stress with the right treatment of the animals.

Dr Abraham Mathew stressed the importance of the strength in gentleness when handling snakes and wildlife alike. It may seem like a daunting task to remain calm in the presence of a snake or when bitten by one but doing just that can help with the situation tremendously. The gentlest movements can put a hyperalert snake at ease to an extent it mistakes its handler’s hand for a tree branch. Proper restraining techniques and equipment should be used as total immobilization of animals or restricting movements will affect animals’ behaviour and activities.

Our PCOs have experience handling snakes[2] and thus are confident in using equipment like snake thongs when restraining them. Other ways snakes can be captured include using towels, bags, pillow cases and dustbins as makeshift snake containment enclosure. Venomous snakes require more caution when handling compared to non-venomous snakes as they differ in terms of movement and behaviour where the former moves its head before moving its body. Snakes should never be restrained at the head or by its sensitive tail. Restrained or temporarily captured venomous snakes should always be labelled, as some can spit venom up to 2m and even chew through the bags they are contained in.

In addition to the presentations done by Dr Abraham Mathew, Mr Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan of ACRES enlightened the attendees on how the drainage structures all over Singapore act as passage ways for snakes and reptiles to move around and as habitation. From time to time, wild animals can cross our paths but to ensure they don’t venture too close to our living spaces, homes should be inspected for holes or gaps, sealing them shut.

Wildlife in Singapore: Policies

The Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA)[3] was highlighted, and it was made clear that feeding wildlife in Singapore is illegal. Animals should not be accustomed to food handed from humans as this might alter their behaviour towards human, making them more aggressive. An endearing long-tailed macaque can become a hostile animal with just a flash of teeth from our smiles and laughs as what we assume as a harmless action is deduced as a sign of challenge for a monkey.

monkey wildlife in singapore

There were many concerns raised by the Wild Animals Legislation Review Committee (WALRC) formed by Member of parliament for Nee Soon GRC Louis Ng and consisting of various stakeholders from the pest control companies, religious organisations, town councils and nature community on the recent proposals for amendments[4] to the WABA. The WALRC has proposed as one of the amendments, for deployment of traps for all wildlife to be done only by qualified individuals. Animals such as wild boars have reportedly increased in sightings, indicating the ideal living conditions and increase in population. These bans in deploying traps can safe guard animals from illegal poaching and endangerment.

People have responded in favour of stronger penalties and protection for wildlife in Singapore through the discussions and surveys conducted by WALRC. The proposed amendments aim to fill any gaps in the WABA, protecting wildlife all the same, regardless of whether they are in protected national park areas or beyond.

Our PCOs are trained to refrain from unnecessary disruption to wildlife, respecting each being and handing over to the respective authorities when its beyond their means. Wildlife in Singapore, however small, will be a part of our living spaces from time to time. Killem aims to pursue more humane ways when handling wildlife and playing its part to ensure the safety of the public and not forgetting the animals.

[1] SPMA Wildlife Handling Seminar 2018

[2] Killem Pest Profile: The 6 Common Snakes in Singapore

[3] Wild Animals and Birds Act, Revised Edition 2000

[4] Channel News Asia, Strong support for tougher wildlife protection laws in Singapore: Survey


common snakes in singapore

Killem Pest Profile: The 6 Common Snakes in Singapore

Common snakes in SingaporeA major part of Singapore is occupied by skyscrapers and buildings, turning the landscape to a concrete jungle. The consequences of this urbanisation means animals are affected as they are forced to retreat to more natural habitats, which are still in close proximity to houses and buildings.

From time to time, snakes may pay visits to residential areas and public places. Although they are creatures to be feared and are disliked by many, it is still important to be educated about them if ever faced with a snake on your path.

A snake is a reptile without limbs that has features such as a short tail, jaws capable of extending itself considerably, unmoving eyelids and some with venom and fangs. There are exceptions to these as certain snakes have limbs and some snakes are non-venomous.

The differences between venomous and non-venomous snakes may not be very obvious but it is important that people are aware of the dangers of these snakes.

There have been many species encountered in Singapore but there are 6 common snakes to be highlighted. Some of these snakes can be dangerous and professional help should be sought if they need to be removed.

Banded Krait

Snake - Banded Krait

Scientific Name: Bungarus Fasciatus
Venom: Yes
Food: Other snakes mostly, rodents, cats, lizards and fish
Active Time: Nocturnal, active at night
Habitat: Rodent holes, termite mounds and places close to water

One of the more prominently patterned snakes, the Banded Krait is stripped in black and white from head to tail. It has a mostly black head and a body with a triangular cross section. This is one that can be spotted from a far and should not be approached as it is venomous and may bite if threatened.

They are normally active at night, where they hunt for their prey. They feed on other snakes especially, even the venomous ones, as well as rodents, cats, lizards and fishes to name a few. Based on their eating habits, they can be found in forested areas near rodent holes, termite mounds and places close to water.

Banded Malayan Coral Snake

Snakes - Banded Malayan Coral Snake

Scientific Name: Calliophis intestinalis
Venom: Yes
Food: Other snakes
Active Time: Nocturnal, active at night
Habitat: Forests, parks and gardens

The Banded Malayan Coral Snake, also known as the Calliophis Intestinalis, is a venomous snake. It can grow up to 50cm in length and can be distinguished from the reddish stripe along the length on the top side of the body and the bright red tail. On the underside, however, it has contrasting stripes of black and white that it flips to and portrays when threatened.

In Singapore, the chances of crossing this snake can be high if visits to parks and forested areas are frequent. They mainly eat other snakes and are known to eat even their young ones. They are active at night and therefore can be difficult to spot.

They may look small and attractive but their venom can be potent. It is best to stay away from them if sighted.

Black Spitting Cobra

Snakes - Black Spitting Cobra

Scientific Name: Naja Sumatrana
Venom: Yes
Food: Rodents and other amphibians
Active Time: Nocturnal, active at night
Habitat: Cooler places like shelters, drains and garden walls

The Naja Sumatrana, or also known as the Black Spitting Cobra, spits venom if it feels threatened at a closer distance, as the name suggests. It does so to aim its venom at the victim’s eyes. The eyes and areas surrounding it should be washed immediately to stop the spread of permanent damage the venom does to the tissues. If bitten, the venom can cause death.

They are normally black if not black with a slight blue tinge. They are known to be aggressive if provoked, erecting their hood, standing tall, hissing at their tormentor and finally spitting venom as a final resort. These should be considered as waning signs if this snake is encountered.

King Cobra

Snakes - King Cobra

Scientific Name: Ophiophagus hannah
Venom: Yes
Food: Mostly other snakes, rodents and lizards
Active Time: Most active in the day time
Habitat: Forests, lowland areas to areas of high elevation

The King Cobra is known to be the largest venomous snake in the world. It is notoriously known throughout the world to be a dangerous snake that everyone fears. They can be extremely aggressive in other parts of the world though they are not as much in Singapore. If encountered, however, it is best to stay clear of its path and move away quickly as a bite and venom from this snake can be fatal.

This snake is generally big and its hood is distinctively bigger when spread fully. They can stand tall as high as six feet from the ground and project a hissing sound almost resembling a growl, to intimidate their tormentor.

They are of varying colours but are mainly in shades of light brown to dark brown and even black with a pale yellow underside. It has a set of large head shields that are not seen in most other snakes. All these features may give the snake a graceful look but it is in the least bit gentle if encountered.

It feeds on other snakes predominantly, not leaving the venomous ones either, as well as rodents and lizards. In Singapore, this snake was encountered fighting a Reticulated Python once and had to be removed by Killem’s Pest Control Operators. Professionals should be engaged in such cases as they have the proper equipment and are educated on how to safely remove such snakes.

Oriental Whip Snake

Snakes - Oriental Whip Snake

Scientific Name: Ahaetulla prasina
Venom: Mild
Food: Birds, frogs and lizards
Active Time: Most active in the day time
Habitat: Forests, parks, residential areas with trees and amongst vegetation

Snakes may look vicious but not all of them are venomous. There are also some snakes that are venomous but the amount of toxin may not be sufficient to cause fatality in human.

This is a fairly small and lanky snake that is able to blend in with the vegetation due to its bright green coloured scales. They can grow up to a maximum of about two meters in length and can also vary in colours from light brown to bright green. They are usually seen amongst low hanging trees or tangled between vines in forested areas.

They may not seem like they can do much harm but they do in fact carry venom, though not enough to kill a human. Small birds, frogs and lizards usually fall prey to this snake. If encountered, do let this snake slide away as it prefers to avoid confrontation but if agitated, it may bite.

Reticulated Python

Snake - Reticulated Python

Scientific Name: Malayopython Reticulatus
Venom: No
Food: Small mammals, rodents and birds
Active Time: Active mostly at night
Habitat: Low land to highland, mangroves, forests and drain canals

One of the most widely known snakes, the Reticulated Python is the world’s longest snake at almost ten over meters being the longest. It has an unmistakable alternating, consistent, zigzag pattern of black, yellow, brown and white scales that is recognisable all over the world. This python has a head that is protracted outwards, longer than other snake species and has eyes that are dull orange with black slit-like pupils.

The way this snake hunts its prey is different as it constricts its prey, suffocating it before having it as a meal. This was the other species of snake that was in a battle with the King Cobra, mentioned earlier, constricting it as much as possible given the big disadvantage in size. It may not be venomous but it is still able to bite and suffocate its victim.

It has a diet of small mammals such as pigs, dears, rodents and birds. The pythons found in Singapore are comfortable inhabiting the urbanised areas such as the drains and canals.

They are able to adapt to changing environments but can still be found in forested areas. They are active at night but can be seen hunting even in the day time. The shear length and strength it renders to constrict its victim are indications that professionals should be called immediately once sighted.

Professional Snake Removal Services

Snakes can be dangerous but are sometimes a blessing in disguise, as mentioned in one of our previous posts… What Common Pests Are Found in Your Garden? where snakes were known to reduce rodent population in residential areas and gardens.

It is important to know the difference between the venomous and non-venomous snakes so that extra caution can be taken. Like most other creatures, they prefer to be unprovoked and are not confrontational.

The best way to stay clear of any unexpected attacks if encountered with a snake in your path would be to leave ample space between yourself and the snake as well as a clear exit route for the snake to slip away.

If you do come across any snakes in your residential area or in urban places, do call a professional immediately as they may pose a threat to others.

The Pest Control Operators (PCOs) at Killem are able to rescue, remove and capture snakes that are then released back into the wild, away from the urban landscape.

Proper equipment such as snake thongs, gloves of thick material, heavy duty boots, goggles, long sleeved shirt and pants should be used when handling a snake. Engaging a professional is always the safest option when it comes to handling snakes.


common pests in your garden

What Common Pests Are Found in Your Garden?

You may love spending time in your backyard and tending to your garden. Your children and pets also enjoy playing outside. Perhaps you grow flowers, or vegetables and fruit for you and the family to eat. However, many different types of pests enjoy the garden just as much as you do, and that can be a problem. Let’s take a look at some of the most common pests that like to hang out in the garden.

Bees and Wasps

If you see a bee or two in your garden, it’s not usually a sign to worry. In fact, bees are essential for pollination, and they can do your garden, and the rest of the gardens in the area, a favor. However, when it comes to wasps, or if you have too many bees that are causing problems, you may want to contact a bee or wasp removal specialist to have them removed because the stings are not only painful, but may also be fatal to people that are allergic to bee and wasp stings.

Bee on Flower

Snakes

Most people hate seeing snakes in the garden, and they do have the potential to be a problem. If you have non-venomous snakes that are small and not overly aggressive, they can help to control the rodent population, which is another garden pest we will discuss. However, if the snakes are venomous, if it is very big, if you are unsure about them, or if you simply have a fear and dislike for snakes, you should have them removed as soon as possible. This is an especially good idea if you have children or pets.

Garden Snake

Termites

If you notice termite mounds in your garden, this is a very bad sign and an indication that you already have an infestation. While those termites will not be interested in the flowers and vegetables you are growing, they will be interested in marching to your house so they can start eating the wood so get a termite control specialist in to remove them as soon as possible.

Termite Mound by Tree

Rodents

Rodents in the garden can be very destructive. They may start to eat at the items you are growing, and they are disease carriers. Nothing good comes from having rodents in the garden, and they may also decide to move inside your home where they can get at even more food and cause more issues.

Mouse

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are very dangerous, not just annoying. These pests carry diseases, such as the Zika Virus and Dengue. They breed in areas of standing water, which could be a bird feeder, a puddle, or a water collection bin. It is always a good idea to have someone take care of the mosquitoes before they become a problem.

Ants

Depending on the types of ants in the garden, it might not be a problem. Smaller ants can help with the pollination as they are crawling around the garden, and they can also help to keep caterpillars and other types of pests at bay. They do not generally cause issues by eating anything in the garden, but if you have a lot of ants, they could always decide to head inside. It might still be a good idea to contact pest control.

What Should You Do?

If you have pests in the garden, the best way to get rid of them is to call a professional for help. They can come and look at your problem, and then determine the best way to proceed and to provide you with a pest free environment.

If you would like more information on how Killem can help you keep your garden pest free, visit our residential pest control services page.