Friday, May 22, 2009

an encounter with a snake of the dangerous kind(?)

if each time i came across a snake during my nature walk and i had to call the police - like what one woman did when she came upon a mangrove snake resting on the branch of a tree at macritchie - i would have disturbed the police about a dozen times. i think my encounter with snakes are greater because i choose to walk around places where few people choose to tread. these are usually deserted places where i hardly meet any fellow walkers.

yesterday, i was at neo tiew lane 2, walking towards the kranji reservoir pumping station when an auxiliary policeman shouted to me: bang, watch out, there is a black cobra near the barrier to which you are walking. i stopped in my track and looked around. there was no sign of the snake. if i know snakes, it will have slither away quietly to avoid humans.

coincidentally, today, along this deserted stretch of road leading to, or rather away from, the singapore quarry pond, i happened to stop and saw something by the side of the road. it appeared to be a small snake but i was not going to take chances. i wanted to wait for it to disappear before i proceeded. i think the snake was as wary of me as i was of it. it retreated into the undergrowth before appearing further ahead.

as it started making its move to get to the other side, i realised that it was much longer and larger than i had thought. the snake was at least two metres in length. it was slimmer at the head and tail but its middle portion was quite thick. it looked like a cobra - those i had seen the snake charmer worked with - but it was not agitated enough to show its hood. then again, maybe, it was not a cobra but a harmless snake.

here's so information on snakes in general.

"snakes are listed here first, not because they are a great danger but because so many people fear them. in general, this fear is overblown. contrary to common myths, snakes have no desire to bite people. in fact if given the chance nearly all will avoid us. they swallow their prey whole and we are too large for them to eat."

"the only reason a venomous snake will bite a human is because it thinks it must defend itself. either it was startled or someone appears to be threatening it. indeed the great majority of snakebite victims saw the snake but failed to take common-sense precautions, such as simply moving away. many of those victims were deliberately teasing or trying to catch the snake, often under the influence of alcohol or some other form of chemical stupidity."

"if you are careful in snake country there is no reason you should ever be bitten. snakes like to hide in holes and under logs or boards. be careful about turning over rocks, boards or logs or reaching blindly into anything."

"snakes feel vibrations in the ground better than they hear sound, so walking heavily will warn them of your coming. wear solid shoes or boots. going barefoot, especially after dark, is associated with many snakebites since that neither protects the feet nor warns the snake as shoes or boots do."

stay alert and take the necessary precautions and you will have no problem with snakes.

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