Singapore is home to 67 species of snakes. They are active throughout the year due to our tropical climate. Snakes are generally shy creatures and will usually try to slither away from humans. They come in many sizes, from the Brahminy blind snake that grows no longer than 20 cm, to the reticulated python that can grow up to over 9 m in length.
Snakes serve as a biological control for local rodent populations and are also vital to food webs. They predate on small animals and are prey to larger animals and birds.
Why am I seeing snakes in my neighbourhood?
Snakes are usually seen in urban areas due to the availability of food and shelter. Commonly encountered snakes such as paradise tree snake, oriental whip snake, painted bronzeback and common wolf snake (also known as common house snake) are known to feed on lizards and amphibians which are in abundance in our urban areas. A larger snake, the reticulated python, is known to feed on and control the rodent population.
Which are the most commonly encountered snakes?
Two commonly encountered snake species in Singapore are the reticulated python and black spitting cobra.
The reticulated python is a non-venomous native snake and mostly ground-dwelling, though it is also a good tree climber. Bigger than other snakes, their diet in Singapore consists mainly of rodents, but can include larger mammals like deer and boars. They are usually found in forests, but is also commonly spotted traversing human infrastructure like drains and canals. In fact, it is the most commonly encountered snake species in urban areas!
The black-spitting cobra is another native snake which is commonly encountered in urban areas in Singapore. It is a highly venomous species and when threatened, the snake will raise the front part of its body, flatten its hood and hiss loudly. They are capable of spraying venom targeting the eyes of the perceived aggressor if the warning display fails. Its diet mainly consists of rodents and amphibians.
Besides these, here are some other commonly encountered snakes in Singapore:
Do's and Don'ts
What should I do when I encounter a snake in a public area?
Observe from a safe distance, as snakes will not attack unless disturbed or provoked.
Stay calm and back away slowly, giving the snake space to retreat.
Do not approach or attempt to handle the snake.
Leave the snake alone, especially if it is in its natural habitat.
Keep pets on a tight leash for the safety of both your pet and the snake.
Do not attempt to handle the animal. Call NParks’ 24-hr Animal Response Centre (1800-476-1600) or ACRES (9783-7782) for assistance if required.
What should I do when I encounter a snake at home?
Do not attempt to handle the animal. Call NParks’ Animal Response Centre (1800-476-1600) or ACRES (9783-7782).
Keep all family members and pets away from where the snake is.
If a snake is found inside a room, keep all doors and windows that lead outside open for the snake to exit.
Find out why the snake came to your area – a potential cause could be improper waste disposal which attracts pests that snakes prey on.
How can I keep snakes out of my home?
Practise proper food waste disposal to keep rodents away.
Remove potential hiding places, such as unused pots or containers, holes and gaps in property.
Install wire mesh or acrylic panes at least 1m high, dug into the ground surrounding the property to keep out terrestrial snakes.
Keep grass short and seal up any holes or burrows in gardens to prevent rodent nesting.
Fill crevices and gaps under pavements to prevent rodent nesting.
Keep drains covered and cover up entry and exit points with wire mesh to minimise access to snakes and rodents.
Keep pets indoors or ensure that its cage is snake proof.
To learn more about snakes and other herptiles, you can join the Herpetological Society of Singapore for their guided walks and read more about them on their webpage.
You can also watch this public webinar by NParks on reptiles in Singapore.
Hear some coexistence tips on snakes, from the local musical duo Jack and Rai in this Coexistence video series by ACRES
Finally, you can view, download and share the following advisories on snakes with your friends, family and community!