S'pore pest control staff throws & steps on snake in 'training exercise' video

Too tough.

Ashley Tan | March 12, 2019, 12:28 AM

Humans and snakes are like oil and water: They don't mix well.

Another video of snake being abused in Singapore

Another video showing a snake being manhandled in Singapore has appeared online.

It showed personnel supposedly from a local pest control company being filmed potentially manhandling a snake in what was allegedly a training exercise.

This was after a highly publicised previous encounter where personnel from another pest control company were seen roughly handling a python along Orchard Road.

Training exercise?

The latest video, submitted by an anonymous member of public to the All Singapore Stuff Facebook page, has since been taken down at the behest of the pest control company.

The video depicts a staff member of the unidentified pest control company roughly nudging the snake aside with his shoe, stepping on it, and then throwing it to the side on the concrete floor.

The snake appeared lethargic, and moved weakly after being thrown on the ground.

You can watch the video below.

[video width="339" height="600" mp4="https://static.mothership.sg/1/2019/03/snakehandlingnew.mp4"][/video]

Animal abuse?

A member of the Herpetology Society of Singapore (HSS), Shivaram Rasu, told Mothership that such rough treatment was "unnecessary and unacceptable".

He said the python appeared to be "weakened" due to stress from "continuous handling".

HSS advised pest control companies to "revise their protocols" so that risk can be minimised to both the snake and the handler.

Will people treat other animals the same way?

Shiva also urged people to imagine treating a pangolin or otter the same way:

If this were any other animal like a dog or a cat, such treatment would be completely unacceptable. Why are similar standards not enforced for handling native wildlife that are important to the local ecosystem?

Deputy chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), Kalai Vanan, echoed similar sentiments.

He said the handling was "wrong, cruel and extremely disturbing".

"It definitely constitutes as severe animal abuse," he said.

Kalai added:

How can a pest control company be holding onto a wild animal protected by law and use it for training and throw it around like piece of rubbish? And where is this poor snake now? What other wild animals get captured and are kept for such cruel 'training lessons'.

Snakes seem to get a bad rep

Singaporeans sure do love their otters, but snakes? Not so much.

Reptiles, less cuddly and furry, tend to elicit more negative reactions.

In two out of 10 snake-related calls, the snakes are abused, according to a previous Straits Time article.

A recent case publicised by Acres explained how a drain cover was thrown on a snake after passers-by noticed it preying on a stray cat.

Often times in human-snake encounters, the snakes just want to get away.

Pythons are shy animals

The snake seen in the video being manhandled has been identified by HSS as a reticulated python, one of the most common snakes in Singapore.

They are non-venomous, shy and tend to avoid contact with humans, but may become aggressive when threatened.

Close up of a reticulated python. Photo by Steve Wilson / Wikicommons

What is the proper procedure?

According to Shiva, to subdue and release a snake properly without throwing the creature or causing it harm is possible, as seen in this video of a python being captured and removed by Acres:


As you can see, the snake was carefully removed from the drain with the aid of numerous handlers, and then placed in a bag to reduce the stress of being carried around.

More compassion needed

Ultimately, the handling of wild animals goes beyond technical knowledge, but requires "respect, knowledge and compassion", said Kalai.

Kalai hopes that the relevant authorities can look into this as a serious case of animal cruelty and take action.

If anybody comes across a snake in an area with vegetation, Acres advises not to disturb it and to leave it alone.

However, if the animal is in an urban environment and is trapped or not moving, observers can call the Acres wildlife rescue hotline at 9783 7782.

Update, March 12, 2019:

The pest control company manhandling the snake has been identified as PestBusters.

A PestBusters spokesperson told The New Paper that the video uploaded online was not filmed at a "training" session.

He mentioned that all their training videos are recorded and "this incident was not in [their] records".

"What is seen in the video is not how we handle snakes. We definitely do not throw the snakes around. It's wrong," he added.

The man seen throwing the snake in the video was, at the time, a junior staff member, according to the spokesperson.

The man is now occupying a more senior position, and allegedly when questioned, said he "has no recollection of the incident".

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in the article that they are currently investigating the incident.

AVA has assured that there are guidelines in place on the proper handling of wild animals for all pest control agencies in Singapore.

"For example, snakes should not be unduly harmed by the persons handling it and appropriate equipment should be used to catch them," AVA said in a statement.

Top photo from All Singapore Stuff and Abel Yeo Facebook