Ask HSS #1

A four-lined tree frog just hanging out. Image by Shivaram Rasu. Edited by Kelsie Tan.

We realise that Herpetology doesn’t come up too often in day-to-day life. So, we put up a series of Instagram Stories on @herpsocsg asking if you guys had any burning questions on Herps and Herping in Singapore. Many of you have quipped in with awesome questions, and they shall be answered below!

On Herps in Singapore:

“Does Singapore have any poisonous amphibians in the wild?”

Yes! In fact, most toads possess a pair of poison glands called Paratoid glands at the sides of their heads, which can secrete Bufotoxins. This chemical may cause your eyes to be irritated. Other species may secrete foul or noxious substances from their skin!

Some examples of common poisonous amphibians include the banded bullfrog (Kaloula pulchra) and Gunther’s frog (Sylvirana guentheri). The banded bullfrog has foul tasting skin secretions, while Gunther’s frog has poisonous skin secretions and poisonous eggs!

“I’ve been wanting to photograph a mangrove cat snake, is it commonly found in SG?”

Mangrove cat snakes have been commonly seen at Windsor Nature Park and Lower Pierce Nature Reserve. However, it is not a 100% guarantee that you’ll see one at these places, though we wish you lots of luck!

On Herping in Singapore:

“When would be a good time to go herping in Singapore?”

Do try for mornings, around 8-11am, when it is hot and sunny. This will give you a good chance of finding basking reptiles. Keep a lookout on the leaf litter for the common sun skink! However, if you are looking for frogs, dusk or after heavy rain might be your best bet.

“Where’s the best place to spot frogs and snakes in Singapore?”

The Singapore Botanic Gardens has a good variety of commonly seen frogs. As for snakes, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve give you a good chance in the day time, though the shy nature and amazing camouflage skills of these creatures make them hard to discern.

“What should we look out for when herping for frogs in Singapore?”

Rather than look out for frogs, listen out for them. The best way to find frogs is to pay attention to their calls and try to trace them back to their source. Check out our Frog Call Library for help with identifying these frogs!

“How do I find snakes in the wild?”

Perseverance and consistency is key. It is generally not very easy to find snakes in Singapore, but if you go out on a consistent and regular basis, you will eventually encounter some! There is unfortunately no sure-fire way to find snakes in Singapore.

On Encountering (the unprecedented) Herp:

“What should I do if I find a snake in my house?”

Don’t panic, keep an eye on it and give ACRES a call. Ensure that no children or pets are in the immediate area. Take a picture of the snake and send it to ACRES for species identification as soon as possible.

“How should I handle a wild snake?”

You shouldn’t! One should never handle a wild snake, unless they are a trained professional. If you see an injured snake or find one in an inconvenient place, kindly inform ACRES.

On HSS:

“Will there be any tour the public can join to view some wild animals?”

“How can we join one of your guided walks?”

The HSS organises public walks once a month at various nature areas in Singapore. However, due to the current COVID-19 virus situation, these walks have been put on hold indefinitely. Kindly stay tuned for updates via our Instagram or Facebook page, where the sign-up links will be posted! 

Contributors: Law Ing Sind, Law Ingg Thong, Kelsie Tan

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