Fig. 1. Dorsal view of ZRC 2.7085.
Fig. 2. Ventral view of ZRC 2.7085, with the retrieved food item, a Clarias leiacanthus.
Photographs by Tan Heok Hui

A food item of the Blackwater Mud Snake (Phytolopsis punctata)

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Nee Soon swamp forest; 22 November 2014.

Observation: A large adult female example of 63.5 cm snout-vent length and 72.0 cm total length was found dead in a submerged trap used for an on-going biodiversity survey. Upon dissection, a Forest Walking Catfish (Clarias leiacanthus) of 13.6 cm standard length (from snout tip to tail base) was retrieved. The pectoral spine of the ingested catfish had pierced through the gut wall of the snake, but not yet through the skin. The snake is presumed to have died either from asphyxiation or from the puncture of its gut wall by its ingested prey.

Remarks: The occurrence of the Blackwater Mud Snake in Singapore is first recorded by Thomas et al. (2014) based on two smaller examples obtained at the same general area. The natural history of this apparently rare species is virtually unknown, except it is typically associated with acid-water and peat swamps (Murphy, 2007: 162, as Enhydris punctata). Clarias leiacanthus appears to be the first recorded food item of this snake. The present specimen, catalogued as ZRC.2.7085, is deposited in the Zoological Reference Collection of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore.

References:

  • Murphy, J. C., 2007. Homalopsid snakes: Evolution in the mud. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida, USA. 249 pp.
  • Thomas, N., T. Li, W. Lim & Y. Cai, 2014. New record of the blackwater mud snake in Singapore. Singapore Biodiversity Records. 2014: 309-310.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 311-312

When we are out on the roads, we do come across these road kills – in this case, a Striped Kukri Snake (Oligodon octolineatus) run over on a small road. It is rather hard for a motorist to spot a small snake. But for animals who can be easily spotted, please watch your speed on the roads. Not only for their lives which are at stake, but for your own safety as well.

Another little favour you can do for the animals is this: When you come across such small road kills, please help to remove the dead animal to the roadside to prevent secondary road kills of birds or scavengers who may feed on the dead animal. Kindly do it safely: Please park the vehicle in a proper space, and use a stick/twig/plastic bag to move the carcass away from the roads.

Source: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) Facebook

Some more sad news from Lumut! A dead dolphin / porpoise? It was found dead. Let’s keep our rivers and seas clean – come to the cleanup this Sunday at 9 am Sungei Kebun and contribute to the change. Thanks Nizam for the photos. Can anyone ID this photo? We are saddened by the recent losses and poaching.

Source: 1StopBrunei Wildlife Facebook

Based on the apparent lack of a dorsal fin, my guess is that this is an Indo-Pacific Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides).

Dead fish, mostly Tilapia, float on the surface of Burachat Chaiyakan pond in the Makkasan area. City Hall officials say an inspection of the pond following complaints by locals found the dissolved oxygen level in the water was zero. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

Thailand: Thousands of fish found dead in Makkasan pond
By Supoj Wancharoen, 27th November 2014;

City Hall plans to siphon water from a pond in the Makkasan area after thousands of fish were found dead.

Drainage and Sewerage Department deputy chief Kangwan Deesuwan yesterday said the fish, mostly Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.), were found dead in Burachat Chaiyakan pond.

Mr Kangwan said officials discovered the dissolved oxygen level in the pond water had fallen to zero. He said the fish had been dead for about three days.

The officials inspected the pond after a group of residents complained.

The pond is located in property managed by the State Railway of Thailand but the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration decided to take action after receiving the complaints.

Mr Kangwan said City Hall would drain the water out of the pond and then refill it with water from the nearby Khlong Saen Saep.

The deputy chief rejected rumours that some people had poisoned the fish so they could sell them.

Nonn Panitwong, a water ecology adviser at Green World Foundation, said the fish deaths were likely caused by low dissolved oxygen levels, and this could be seen by the dark colour of the water.

He said the pond had not been siphoned after the rainy season and waste under water became more concentrated, resulting in lower levels of dissolved oxygen.

Mr Nonn said Tilapia are known to be one of the toughest species of fish and can endure low levels of dissolved oxygen.

The deaths of the Tilapia indicated the poor condition of the water, he said.

To completely clean the pond, he said, the muddy soil at the bottom of the pond had to be removed and oxygen had to be added back into the water.

Hyacinth can also help absorb waste in water, he said, adding that littering also had to be prohibited.

Source: Bangkok Post