Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus)
Old Upper Thomson Road, 4th November 2015

This decomposing young Reticulated Python was found dangling from some vines along Old Upper Thomson Road. It is likely that it had been killed (possibly run over by a vehicle), then placed there by a passer-by.

Ventral aspect of the Green Iguana carcass. Photograph by Ian Chew.

Roadkill Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) at Upper Thomson

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Old Upper Thomson Road; 8 January 2017; 1700 hrs.

Observation: A carcass of a Green Iguana was found on the road. It may have been run over by a vehicle. Its snout-vent length was approximately 20 cm. The total length was 35 cm, but the tail was incomplete, possibly due to a prior injury.

Remarks: Green Iguanas are not native to Singapore. Adult and juvenile individuals, very likely abandoned pets and their progeny, have been recorded in the western and northern parts of Singapore, including Bukit Batok (Tay, 2015), Jurong (Low et al., 2016), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve (Chua, 2007) and Kranji Reservoir around Sungei Tengah (Ng & Lim, 2014; Khoo, 2016). This appears to be the first published record in the central part of the island, at the edge of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

References:

  • Chua. E.K., 2007. Feral Iguana attacks Varanus salvator at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Biawak. Quarterly Journal of the International Varanid Interest Group. 1 (1): 35-36.
  • Khoo, M. D. Y., 2016. Green Iguanas at Kranji Reservoir. Singapore Biodiversity Records. 2016: 185.
  • Low, M. R., D. P. Bickford, M. Tan & L. C. Neves, 2016. Malayopython (Python) reticulatus. Diet. Herpetological Review. 17 (1):148.
  • Ng B. C. & K. K. P. Lim, 2015. Green Iguana at Sungei Tengah. Singapore Biodiversity Records. 2015: 51.
  • Tay J. B., 2015. Green Iguana at Burgundy Crescent. Singapore Biodiversity Records. 2015: 188.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2017: 5

Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus)
Old Upper Thomson Road, 23rd November 2015

Sarah Marie Pascoe shared these photos of a young Reticulated Python that had clearly been run over by a motor vehicle while crossing a road along the forest edge.

Find out how you can contribute to Monday Morgue too.

A photo of the rarely seen Slow Loris (Nycticeus coucang) taken from secondary forest along Old Upper Thomson Road during a biodiversity survey in September 2015. I have seen only twice before in Sabah and Panti but this is the first time I have seen one in Singapore. Unfortunately, it doesn’t count as a Singapore tick as this individual was already dead, probably electrocuted by the old power line.

Source: Lim Kim Seng Facebook

In search of roadkill

Researcher is studying how many reptiles and amphibians die here due to vehicle collisions
By Carolyn Khew, 1st February 2015;

On two days last month, 26-year-old Mary-Ruth Low cruised along leafy roads near forested areas on her Yamaha motorbike.

Ms Low, a research assistant at the National University of Singapore (NUS), was not out on joy rides but going around at a speed of 25kmh to look for animals – dead ones to be precise.

This may seem like a gory task, but it is part of a one-year study that Ms Low started last month to get a sense of how many reptiles and amphibians die due to collisions with oncoming vehicles.

Once every two weeks, she and two others visit 10 sites, including Old Upper Thomson Road and Mandai Lake Road, to look for animal carcasses. The areas chosen include those where roadkill is said to be found most frequently.

Armed with a handheld GPS (global positioning system) device, a ruler and a point-and-shoot camera, Ms Low takes pictures of dead animals and records the precise locations where they are found.

She does not usually pick up the animal carcasses. But if she comes across a rare species, she will hand it over to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum for research purposes.

Asked what made her start this study, Ms Low, who does research at NUS on the spatial ecology of reptiles, said there is hardly any documenting of roadkill involving animals such as snakes and monitor lizards (Varanus spp.).

This was even though “being ground-dwelling and slow-moving creatures, they are most prone to deaths by oncoming traffic”.

“The data is out there but no one is really looking,” she said. “Hopefully, we can establish baseline data which can be used for future reference.”

Mr Louis Ng, chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), said animals may be on the roads to bask or roost at roadside vegetation.

“Land-clearing for developments pushes native wildlife to use urban corridors, leading to increased chances of human-wildlife interactions,” he added.

Last year, ACRES received 26 calls from members of the public about roadkill involving animals such as Macaques (Macaca fascicularis), turtles and snakes. There have been at least five such calls so far this year.

When asked, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said it received 2,198 notices of feedback last year on dead animals sighted, regardless whether they were killed on the roads or otherwise. In 2013, the figure was 2,324.

“NEA clears such animal carcasses that it comes across as part of its scheduled cleaning rounds or in response to public feedback, in the interest of public health,” said an NEA spokesman, who added that the agency is responsible for clearing animal carcasses in public areas, except estates maintained by the town councils.

Wildlife experts have suggested building “road calming measures” such as speed bumps and animal crossing signs near roadkill-prone areas to minimise such occurrences.

At Mandai Lake Road, signs are placed along both sides of the road leading to the Singapore Zoo to warn motorists of possible animals ahead.

In some instances, rarer wildlife such as Pangolins (Manis javanica), Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) and the critically endangered Banded Leaf Monkey (Presbytis femoralis) have fallen prey to oncoming traffic.

Mr Nick Baker, who is helping in Ms Low’s study, started his own recording of roadkill incidents along Old Upper Thomson Road since he moved to the area in 2012.

Mr Baker, a member of the Vertebrate Study Group of the Nature Society (Singapore), said the road is a hot spot as it used to be part of the Grand Prix circuit in the 1960s.

“Inconsiderate drivers use the road to show off their fast cars,” he said. “Many other drivers are simply not observant enough to see animals on the road.”

Source: The Straits Times (Mirror)

Carcasses used as research specimens

Not all animals die in vain.

Over at the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, some get turned into research specimens in their afterlife.

Its museum officer Marcus Chua told The Sunday Times that each specimen is “valuable to science”.

For example, the stomach contents of the animal can provide information about its diet, he said.

A portion of the animal tissue is preserved or cryogenically frozen at very low temperatures and kept in the tissue collection for genetic research. “Eventually, the whole animal is preserved for future scientific work. Sometimes, the right person may come by years down the road and make a striking discovery,” said Mr Chua, 31.

Many of these specimens are also used for science education workshops and public awareness exhibitions at the museum, which will open in April.

About one-third, or 11, of the 32 carcasses collected last year were believed to be roadkill, said Mr Chua.

While snakes and birds make up most of the salvaged specimens, the museum has some rarer finds.

They include an endangered Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) collected in 2001, a Greater Mousedeer (Tragulus napu), and a Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) received last week.

“I think knowing what is out there and being killed on the roads is the first step,” said Mr Chua.

“But using the data to find out which species may be imperilled by vehicular traffic, and how to go about reducing this mortality for the conservation of biodiversity is the next step.”

Those who spot a wild animal carcass can inform the museum on 6516-5082 or visit its website at http://lkcnhm.net/dead-wildlife/.

They may also call the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society on its 24-hour hotline, 9783-7782.

Source: The Straits Times

Do show your support for the Singapore Roadkill Records project! If you see an animal carcass due to a road-related incident, kindly submit a photo to sgroadkillrecords@gmail.com with the following information:

  1. Date and Time
  2. Detailed location or GPS coordinates
  3. Species identification (if possible)

In search of roadkill

Fig. 1-6. Asthenodipsas laevis specimen (ZRC 2.7079) from Old Upper Thomson Road.
Fig. 1. Dorsal view of entire snake.
Fig. 2. Side view of colour pattern and scalation at mid-body.
Fig. 3. Dorso-lateral view of posterior including tail.
Fig. 4. Close-up of the underside of the tail showing the paired subcaudal scales.
Fig. 5. Side view of crushed neck and head.
Fig. 6. Underside of head, showing asymmetrical chin shields and absence of median furrow typical of the Pareatidae.
Photographs by Nick Baker

Second record of the Smooth Slug Snake (Asthenodipsas laevis) in Singapore

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Old Upper Thomson Road, near gate to Upper Peirce Reservoir Park; 8 January 2014, 0950 hrs.

Observation: An example of 33.6 cm total length (Fig. 1-6) was found on the road. It had clearly been run over by a vehicle – the head, body and tail were all crushed to varying degrees, and had become dessicated under the sun, such that there was no smell of decay.

Scale characteristics observed of the specimen are: 1 loreal; 6 supralabials with 3, 4 and 5 in contact with the eye, and the 6th nearly equal in length to the others; no preocular; 15 dorsals; 161 ventrals; 52 pairs of subcaudals; anal not divided.

Remarks: The present example may have been run over by a vehicle the previous evening, or even a few days before due to its dessicated state. It may have ventured onto the tarmac for warmth, or attempted to cross the road from one patch of secondary forest to another. The specimen has been deposited in the Zoological Reference Collection of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore as ZRC 2.7079. Scale counts taken from the specimen agree with the information provided by Tweedie (1983: 38, as Pareas laevis) and Manthey & Grossmann (1997: 308, as Pareas laevis).

This is the second specimen of Aesthenodipsas laevis known from Singapore. It has been mentioned by Tan (2014) but without detailed information and the specimen was not illustrated. Lim (2009) found the first Singapore specimen in 1978 in a drain within the compound of the Singapore Zoo. Unfortunately that specimen, although kept, was misplaced and subsequently lost. The location of this second specimen lies some 4.2 km south-east from the first.

The Smooth Slug Snake specializes in eating terrestrial molluscs and is known to attain a maximum size of about 60 cm. It is distributed in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Java (Manthey & Grossmann, 1997: 308, as Pareas laevis). Based on its size, the present specimen appears to be a young individual. Given that the species is found in territories around Singapore, it is most likely to be native there. We propose that its status in Singapore be updated from ‘indeterminate’ (Baker & Lim, 2012: 171) to ‘extant indigenous’.

References:

  • References:
    Baker, N. & K. K. P. Lim, 2012. Wild Animals of Singapore. A Photographic Guide to Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians and Freshwater Fishes. Updated edition. Draco Publishing and Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. 180 pp.
  • Lim, F. L. K., 2009. Asthenodipsas laevis (Reptilia: Squamata: Pareatidae), a snake record for Singapore that was almost forgotten. Nature in Singapore. 2: 463–465.
  • Manthey, U. & W. Grossmann, 1997. Amphibien & Reptilien Sudostasiens. Natur und Tier – Verlag, Berlin. 512 pp.
  • Tan, A., 2014. Researchers find two snake species new to Singapore. The Straits Times. Tuesday, 23 December 2014: Home, B2.
  • Tweedie, M. W. F., 1983. The Snakes of Malaya. Third edition. Singapore National Printers (Pte) Ltd. 167 pp.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 337-338

Photograph by Nick Baker

Olive Tree Skink (Dasia olivacea) roadkill at Old Upper Thomson Road

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Old Upper Thomson Road, near junction of access road to Upper Peirce Reservoir Park; 10 April 2014; 1415 hrs.

Observation: The observer was driving northwards along Old Upper Thomson Road, when a lizard was seen running across the road. It had exited the State Land on the eastern side and was attempting to enter the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on the western side. Unexpectedly, it ran straight under the front offside wheel of the vehicle and was immediately crushed to death. The victim, an adult of about 17 cm total length, was retrieved and later photographed, before being deposited as a voucher specimen in the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore. Most of the scales on its dorsum were abraded during the accident (see accompanying picture).

Remarks: The largely arboreal Olive Tree Skink is rarely seen in Singapore, being known only from forest at the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves, as well as on Pulau Ubin. It is regarded as an ‘endangered’ species in Singapore (Lim et al., 2008: 168).

Reference:

  • Lim, K. K. P., N. Baker, R. Teo & T. M. Leong, 2008. Reptiles. In: Davison, G. W. H., P. K. L. Ng & H. C. Ho (eds.). The Singapore Red Data Book. Threatened Plants & Animals of Singapore. Second edition. The Nature Society (Singapore). pp. 160-176.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 297