Surprise ssswimmer in Toa Payoh pool

SINGAPORE - A reticulated python measuring 3m long was spotted at Toa Payoh Swimming Complex yesterday morning.

The public pool, one of the more popular ones here, was closed for a scheduled half-day weekly maintenance.

Sport Singapore told The Straits Times that a pool operator saw the snake in the competition pool at about 6am. That particular pool is not open to the public as it is used for training by Singapore's national swimmers and lifeguards.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) sent a two-man team to remove the snake at 7.05am.

Sport Singapore said it has a safety protocol in place for such situations - including the evacuation of guests if the swimming complex had been open to the public at the time.

Acres' group director of wildlife Anbarasi Boopal said the non-venomous snake will be micro-chipped and released back into the wild, as part of an ongoing study with the National University of Singapore into the python population here.

Being an excellent swimmer, the python could have entered the swimming pool through a canal or drain, said wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai.

"They are good swimmers and comfortable near water, so the pool may be a place where the python was looking for food," he said. "They can occur in most habitats, but their preference would normally be wooded areas."

Mr Subaraj noted that many visitors come to Singapore to see the reticulated python because it is famous for being the world's longest snake, able to grow to a length exceeding 9m, and is indigenous to this region. He added that pythons usually feed on rats, and will not attack humans unless provoked.

Ms Anbarasi said Acres receives roughly one call every day about pythons, and the snakes usually do not pose a public danger.

Members of the public can call Acres' 24-hour Wildlife Crime and Rescue Hotline on 9783-7782.

This article was published on April 30 in The Straits Times.Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.