Monday, September 4, 2017

Here there be serpents: Pasir Ris Mangroves

We were very happy to welcome about 70 visitors for our latest walk! Many had never been to the mangroves of Pasir Ris Park, which are in fact the most easily accessible of our remaining mangrove forests. Thanks to the eagle-eyed spotting of one of our guides, they got to see the elusive Shore Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops purpureomaculatus) on their very first visit! The Shore Pit Viper is an ambush predator, sitting camouflaged in one spot for days at a time for prey to pass by before striking with lightning speed. It's deadly venom quickly immobilises small animals like rodents, birds, and lizards. Although it is dangerous if provoked, it was perched safely far away from the boardwalk so our visitors could observe it with no worries. 
Photo by Lim Yi He

Photo by Lim Yi He
There were also many Giant Mudskippers (Periophtalmodon schlosseri) about, guarding the "swimming pools" they dig for themselves to rest in at low tide. This provides them with a steady source of oxygen as well as a burrow which they can hide in if a predator appears.
Photo by Lim Yi He

A small nest of honeybees was also present in the mangroves. These insects are important pollinators for many plants in the mangroves and will not attack unless first provoked.
Photo by Lim Yi He

Many different species of snail live amongst the mud. One such snail is the Belongkeng (Ellobium scheepmakeri), also known as the Mangrove Land Snail, which feeds on algae. This is now critically endangered in Singapore due to habitat loss and past overcollection for food.

Photo by Lim Yi He
No walk in Pasir Ris would be complete without a sighting of a Malayan Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator)! There were many of them spotted on our walk clinging onto tree branches as they prepared to turn in for the night. Often misidentified as their close relatives the Komodo Dragons, they feed mainly on carrion and small animals and pose no danger to humans if left alone. In other countries where they are hunted, they can be hard to spot, but here in Singapore we are blessed to be able to see them up close!

If you couldn't make it for our walk this time, fear not! Keep a look out for our next walk coming in October, like our Facebook page at and share about us with you friends! We hope to see you soon!
At the end of the walk, the kids draw what they've seen!

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