Observation Series
Snake Encounters

One does not get to see snakes very often in Singapore, not even in the forest area mainly because these reptiles usually go about their business during the night. Even while resting during the day, they are hard to spot as the colour or pattern of their body tend to gel very well with the surrounding environment. This page records the rare moments when I came face-to-face with these long and slender creatures.

The snake that I frequently came across is the Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina). I had seen it so often that I was no longer keeping track of its sighting. The most recent snake encountered was in November 2014 where I encountered a Equatorial Spitting Cobra (Naja sumatrana). An excellent online reference on snakes in Southeast Asia is the Ecology Asia website.

Below are the pictorial records of my snake encounters:

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Reticulated Python (Broghammerus reticulatus)
September 2013

I finally get to take some pictures of a python. Unfortunately, it was a dead one from a roadkill. The motionless young python was found on a road leading to Upper Seletar Reservoir. Judging from the fresh specimen, the accident probably happened in just a few hours back. Furthermore, I did not see the snake when I pass by the same road about 4 hours ago. Python was a common sightings in the good old and fun days when I lived in kampong (village) as a kid.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

White-bellied Blind Snake (Typhlops muelleri)
September 2013

When I saw this dark giant earthworm-like creature wriggling in a shallow drain, I knew it was a kind of blind snake. It had probably fell into this drain by accident and had a problem getting out as the wall of the drain was rather steep. I had seen the much smaller blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus) but not one that was this big, with diameter of the body about the size of my little finger. After taking some pictures, I hauled it out from the drain and placed in on the grassy area nearby. It wriggled around beneath the grass canopy and eventually disappeared from my sight.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Striped Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis caudolineatus)
August 2013

The snake was spotted half-hidden in the short but dense bushes by the side of a track at Dairy Farm Nature Park. As part of its body was hidden in the bushes, I was not able to have any shot of the whole snake. This was quite a busy trail and several groups of people had passed by me before I reach the snake's location. Some of them were chatting quite loudly. I was quite surprise that the snake had stayed despite the commotion. It had sensed my presence since I was waving my camera around to take its pictures and it had decided to moved further into the forest.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Equatorial Spitting Cobra (Naja sumatrana)
November 2014

Again in the same location, I spotted the snake. This time was a young snake. It was a quiet afternoon when I was moving along the quiet track, I sensed movement of a dark object in the grass by the side of the track. By then, the snake had already sensed my presence. It did not go off immediately, thus allowing me to took a few pictures before disappearing under a log covered with thick layer of dead leaves. Compared to the last encountered last year, I was equipped with a camera with a better built-in zoom len that allowed me to take decent pictures from a distance.

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March 2013
This time round at the same location, I spotted the snake from a distance. It was gliding along an open track with thick vegetation at both sides. Fortunately, nobody came by the track as it was on a hot mid-day. I inched closer to it slowly, careful not to make too much noise, it remained undisturbed and continued with it exploration of the surrounding. Since it was a type of cobra, which I assumed to be highly poisonous, I had kept a safety distance from it. This had compromised the quality of the pictures. However, I did get some better pictures compared to the last encounter where the snake was alerted on my presence and on an escape mode.

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December 2011
I first saw its dark body gliding along the leaf-littered floor not too far from the track. Immediately, I knew it was a snake that I had not seen before. When I finally saw its head region, the first thing that came to my mind was that it had to be a cobra. As it was moving deeper into the bushes away from the track, I had to quickly snap whatever pictures I could get. As it is a cobra, I had to take care to keep some good distance between the two of us. The only 2 pictures that I managed to snap from a distance did not look too great. But, I was thrilled to see a cobra in the wild, especially in Singapore.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Paradise Tree Snake (Chrysopelea paradisi)
June 2012

The snake was about to come down from a young Yellow Trumpet Bush (Tecoma stans) when I saw it at Upper Seletar Reservoir area. It paused and started to retreat back onto the young shrub. While it stayed still trying to figure out what to do next, I quickly snapped as many picture as I could, knowing that it might dash away anytime. At one point, it was looking straight into my camera. Sure enough, it decided to make another attempt to exit. After getting down the shrub, it quickly slipped into the crevices of the rocks along the edge of the reservoir.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Blue Malayan Coral Snake (Maticora bivirgata)
November 2011

This snake was laying still, probably sleeping, in a shallow drain littered with a layer of thick fallen leaves just by the side of a road at Lower Pierce Reservoir area. After a few minutes into my photo session, it started to move slowly away into the forest. It had probably detected my presence. It looked like the Pink-headed Reed Snake (Calamaria schlegeli) except that its tail was bright red.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Spotted Keelback (Xenochrophis maculatus)
May 2010

This was the third time that I saw a snake at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The last encounter was only 2 weeks back and it was the same type of snake seen previously. This time round, it was a different one. Its body was long and slender. Our path crossed when it was about to cross a trail on the forest floor. Sensing my presence, it froze for a while before retreating under a large log near the track. After a few second, it emerged and decided to cross the trail this time round regardless of my presence.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina)
August 2013

I finally got to see a baby Oriental Whip Snake. The snake was quite small, probably can fit into the palm when coiled up. It was found on a twig on the ground just by the side of a track at a different park. This park has mostly wild and dense vegetation at both side of the walking track.

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November 2010
Here was another encounter of the green snake. It was seen motionless on a fallen tree trunk at a slope along Sembawang Road. The back of the slope was a small patch of forested area. Again, I was able to get close to it. This snake appeared to be mild and was not too concern about human getting close to it. I had seen this snake so many times that it no longer surprise me when I see one. However, it still feels good to know that such beautiful reptile continues to roam around in the wild.

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October 2010
Once again, I saw this snake during my routine walk around the same park. The different was that this time round, the snake was within arm length. It simply kept still even when my camera getting close to its head region.

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July 2010
Surprisingly, my first encounter of this snake in Singapore was at a park near my home. Not only that, I saw the snake twice in the same month on different days. This park had a small remnant forested area consist mainly of Rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis). Though I had been visiting this park almost every month for the last one year, this was the first time I saw a snake here. Since then, I had been on the lookout for it each time when I visit this park.

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December 2009
I did not know this green snake was so common in Singapore when I first saw one in the year 2009 in Malaysia. Then, my focus was still very much on plants. The snake was spotted on a Monkey Apple (Glochidion littorale) shrub at a beach area where I was having my holidays. I had previously read about this snake, before this life encounter, from the Internet where it was sighted in Singapore.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)
October 2013

This time round, the snake was above my head level. It was spotted on a young tree along a track at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I could only see the lower part of the head while the view of the rest of the body was blocked by leaves. To get a few shots of its body, I just raise my camera above the leaves and hope to snap some good shots. I did at least took a good picture of its head region.

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July 2012
After seeing the first juvenile in May, I came across it again within 2 months. It was asleep on a palm leaf just by main road near the Visitor Centre at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. As it was a Saturday morning, the flow of human traffic was heavy around the location. The snake was so well camouflage that no one seemed to discover it. Even while I was taking the photos, no one came near as they thought that my camera I was aiming at some plants. I could not get a side view as the bush was rather thick and there was no way sticking my camera in without causing movement to the palm leaf where the snake was on.

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May 2012
This juvenile snake was spotted by the side of the boardwalk along the Tree-Top Walk trail, just after the tree-top bridge. It was the second snake that I had seen in this area. The first one was a Twin-barred Tree Snake (Chrysopelea pelias) spotted back in January 2009. Again, this one was also in sleep mode.

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May 2010
The second time that I saw this snake was 7 months later again at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. This time round, I had the snake all to myself. It had curled itself on a small plant by the side of a narrow path. It was so close that I can reach out my hand to touch it. Of course, it would be insane for me to do that knowing that it would probably not appreciate such action. Furthermore, I was all alone in the quite forest on a week day. So, after taking a few shots from a safe distance, I decided to move on and let it continued its nap.

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October 2009

photo On a trip to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve while descending from the hill via the main road, I saw a small crowd gathered at the side of the road taking pictures and looking toward the bushes. A snake was seen resting about 20 metres away from the track. I took a few shots but only one turn out well as the lighting condition was poor and the snake was quite a distance away.

Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Twin-barred Tree Snake (Chrysopelea pelias)
January 2009

During a trip to the tree-top bridge at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, I came face-to-face with this snake on the boardwalk just after the tree-top bridge. It was a quiet morning with very low human traffic. The snake was probably sun tanning when I bumped into it. We faced each other for a few minutes before it decided to give way to me by gliding away through the gap on the boardwalk.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Golden Tree Snake (Chrysopelea ornata ornatissima)
February 2008

This snake was seen at the Singapore Zoological Garden but it was not part of the exhibit. It probably was not an escape from the any of the cages but a visitor from the surrounding forest. It was hanging on the branches of a Weeping Tea Tree (Leptospermum brachyandrum) located by the side of a walk way in the Kangaroo enclosure. No one seemed to notice the snake as the focus was on the jumping creatures in front of them.

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Online Reference: | Ecology Asia |

Last updated: 8 November 2014

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