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Encounter with an Oriental Whip Snake

Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina)

So the wife and I were on a walk to go get some sunset photos when I noticed something in a brighter green than the surrounding foliage. “Ohhh...look!”

“What?” asks the wife.

“There,” I say, as I point to the whip snake that was poking out of the dense bush. I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures, getting closer with each shot. See, I don't have much zoom with the lens that came with my camera and I was afraid if I just moved in for the shot I wanted, I'd have scared the snake away. Lucky for me, I got a shot I was happy with and was impressed with how calm the snake was with me pointing my cam right at its head.

Mind you, at the time I only knew this to be a green snake and nothing more. I was sure it wasn't poisonous because when I first came to Singapore and had specifically asked if there was anything I needed to concern myself with, like things that could bite and kill me, I was assured that nope, there wasn’t. I was safe. HA!

Upon getting home, I did a little research to see what my photographed friend was called and that's when I found out it’s an Oriental Whip Snake. “These snakes are so called because they are so thin that they look like whips. There are 4 species in Singapore. The species one is most likely to encounter is the Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina), which is mildly venomous.” (Taken from Wikipedia.)

Mildly venomous? What the hell does that mean?! I freaked out since I just had my hand well within striking distance to get a picture. A little more research and I found out it means that it is poisonous to some things like frogs, but not people. Phew! But after digging a tad further, I discovered there are six venomous snakes here, including vipers that can kill people! What?! I've walked the paths through some dense jungle terrain here and might have thought to prepare differently, like perhaps wearing boots instead of sandals, or perhaps jeans rather than shorts.

Then another thought occurred to me. I looked up the number of cases of documented snake bite incidents and it looks like there are none here in Singapore. So I guess I can sleep with some ease. And continue exploring the natural environment here without huge reservations, albeit probably with a little more caution than before.

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