Sighting of a reticulated python (and what to do if you encounter one)

During my lunch shift earlier this afternoon, I was pushing my bicycle past a large tree when I saw something moving on my right side.

It was a young reticulated python, apparently disturbed from its sleep at the foot of the tree along Kallang River PCN.

I stopped to observe it, and it appeared a little frightened as it adopted a defensive pose.

I remained standing behind the bicycle, while the python attempted a mock strike, gaping and baring its fangs but went no further, as if to say, “whoever you are that woke me up, don’t come any closer or I will bite you.”

I instinctively moved to one side to maintain a safer distance and watched it slide its head back to its cosy corner at the tree roots.

Soon the snake coiled its long body more tightly and settled in snugly to continue its peaceful snooze.

This is an educational opportunity for us to see that snakes aren’t dangerous to human beings, so long as we don’t disturb or provoke them and we keep a safe distance from them.

Pythons are also beneficial for our ecosystem, as noted in the articleSpot a python? Just leave it alone, advise wildlife groups” (10 July 2019):

“Most people may not be aware that snakes play a vital role in regulating Singapore’s ecosystem, said wildlife experts.

As an apex predator preying on small mammals like rats, reticulated pythons are a natural way of keeping pest numbers low.

“Pythons are an important biological control for local rat populations,” said Dr Sonja Luz, director of Conservation, Research and Veterinary Services at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).

She cited a study funded by WRS, which had found that reticulated pythons in Singapore eat mainly rats – 75 per cent of its diet is made up of rodents.

Removing the reptiles may thus result in more rats in the area, ACRES said.”


How deforestation and climate change may be related to flash floods during northeast monsoon season 2021-2022

Animated map of northeast monsoon winds and rain on Sunday, 2 January 2022, 9 am to 10 am (Source: Windy app)

Deforestation and urbanisation in Southeast Asia have been contributing to warmer temperatures, resulting in a chain reaction of stronger air turbulence and more extreme weather events such as stronger monsoon winds and heavier storms, leading to more severe floods.

The floods have also been exacerbated by the increase in sediments from the exposed soil eroded by the rain that are washed into rivers, as well as the increase in surface runoff from the heavy rain that fell onto the impermeable ground, which was once covered with trees that were able to intercept and absorb most of the rainwater.

Singapore has been lucky to escape the brunt of the most recent northeast monsoon storms, but who knows, we may be the next target after Selangor and other states were heavily hit on 16-18 December 2021, followed by Johor on 2-4 January 2022.

Monsoon rains causing floods in Selangor and other states in Peninsular Malaysia on 18 December 2021; monsoon winds and rains causing floods in Johor, Malaysia on 2 January 2022; the reddish areas show highest rain intensity (Sources: Government of India & Windy app)

On 21 December 2021, a news article reported:

“Meanwhile, Dr Siew of Cent-GPS said Malaysia should use this incident as motivation to focus on cutting down emissions, stopping deforestation and creating a dialogue with the masses.

“The government must enact a climate change act which will give an integrated approach, from the policy-level to our disaster response. It’s also a way to integrate the role of society and NGOs in organising support for disaster response,” he added.”

It is a very important lesson indeed. This is what Singapore ought to do as well since we are located in the monsoon zone together with Malaysia.

Floods in Kuantan, Malaysia, caused by torrential downpour on 16 December 2021 (Source: Wikipedia)