YOUth should know: What to do when you encounter a snake

Whether venomous or not, snakes can still be dangerous if provoked.

Chloe Tham

Published: 20 April 2023, 5:05 PM

A rare and venomous snake was sighted in Singapore earlier this week, as reported by The Straits Times. The 2m-long banded krait was first spotted at an adventure playground in Pasir Ris Park.

A few days later, on Apr 18, a video recording of several men harming a reticulated python with pails and crates at Boon Lay Place Market surfaced. The video was uploaded to Instagram by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), with calls of concern over animal cruelty.

With up to 70 species of snakes that can be spotted in Singapore, it is important to be aware of what you should do when you encounter one of them. 

Here are four things to keep in mind if you ever spot any snakes:

1. Observe from a safe distance

According to NParks, snakes are generally shy creatures who will steer clear of humans if they come into contact. Hence, they are unlikely to attack unless disturbed or provoked.

Snakes can also strike from two-thirds of their body length, according to Marissa Jacky, a registered veterinary technician based in the United States. For example, if a snake is 6m long, they can attack from 4m away.

It is advised for members of the public to maintain a safe distance, relative to the snake’s length.

2. Stay calm and back away slowly

Try not to engage sudden movements that might startle or trigger the snake.

By backing away from the snake, you are giving it space to retreat. There is a lower chance of being attacked by a snake if you are not bothering it. 

A snake should be left alone, especially if it is in its natural habitat.


Up to 70 species of snakes can be found in Singapore. PHOTO CREDIT: UNSPLASH/ANASTASIIA MALAI

3. Do not approach or attempt to handle the snake

If you are inexperienced with handling snakes, call NParks’ 24-hour Animal Response Centre at 1800-476-1600 for assistance.

It is also best to keep your pets on a leash or in a carrier whenever you bring them out, as they might chase the snake and frighten it.

In the event of a snake bite, medical assistance should be sought immediately at the nearest medical facility, or call an ambulance at 995.

4. Encountering snakes at home

While not a common occurrence, there is still a possibility of encountering a snake at home. This is especially so for ground floor units or landed properties. 

In such events, should also keep all doors and windows that lead to the outside of the home open. Sometimes, the snake will look for an escape route and will use these openings.

Finding out why the snake entered your area can also help to avoid a similar situation from occurring again. Improper waste disposal can attract pests and cause rodent infestation, which potentially attracts predators such as snakes.


All snakes are carnivores, but their diets vary depending on the species. PHOTO CREDIT: ISTOCK/VALMEDIA

You also should not attempt to hurt the snakes you encounter. Offenders of animal cruelty may face penalties, such as a fine of up to $15,000, or imprisonment of up to 18 months.

Repeat offenders face a fine of up to $30,000 or imprisonment of up to three years.

If you witness any other type of cruelty that may not require the immediate attention of the SPCA or the police (for example, you suspect an animal is being neglected but it has no injuries), you may fill out the Cruelty and Welfare Report and the SPCA will investigate.

For more information about safety precautions against snakes, you may visit NParks’ website.

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