I don’t know about you, but I’m deathly afraid of creepy crawlies — especially if they can fly — so I usually keep most of my windows closed. It’s not really the best solution, because my home is poorly ventilated (which brings another host of issues) so I’ve been looking into getting a magnetic insect screen installed.
However, part of me is glad that I don’t stay in Upper Boon Keng, where bats have been reported to fly into residents’ homes since 2000. I mean, bats are awesome and all, with their nifty echolocation and ability to hang upside down, but they are known to be possible disease carriers.
Some of my friends have told me about birds hanging out on their balcony, monkeys stealing their food, snakes and chickens too! A certain barn owl has also been having regular meetings with PM Lee as well.
It’s not uncommon for wildlife to wander into your home
It’s not so much about wildlife intruding into our space as we are encroaching into theirs. We chop down their forests for land to build our homes, shopping centres and more; when their natural habitat is destroyed, they either seek out whatever remaining spots are left, die out or are forced to co-exist with humans.
According to the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) Annual Report for 2018-2019, there was a 20% increase of calls made to the 24-hour ACRES Wildlife Rescue Hotline between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, a total of 9,811 calls. Of these, 3,376 wild animals were rescued, including those from the illegal exotic pet trade and native wild animals.
To maintain the delicate balance between urbanisation and nature, the National Parks Board (NParks) will work with the community to transform Singapore into a City in Nature. It was also outlined in 2013 land-use plans for 85% of Singapore’s population to live within 400m of a park by 2030. And it works — these greening policies have seen the return of some wildlife species.
Currently, some properties close to Singapore’s nature reserves include the aptly lush Foresque Residences near the Dairy Farm area, HDB flats in Segar Road that face Zhenghua Nature Park, Le Wood at the foot of Bukit Timah Hill, and Thomson Impressions near Windsor Park.
Wildlife that you may encounter in Singapore
Being close to nature, it’s nice to rouse to bird calls instead of traffic sounds and go for an early-morning jog at the nearby park; but there is also a need to know what to do in the event of a wildlife encounter.
Bats were recently reported swooping into the homes of those living at Blk 14, Upper Boon Keng Road. According to a The New Paper article, it seems that ACRES receives four to five bat reports a week. One resident the paper spoke to said she shifted thrice (from Yishun to Yio Chua Kang and then to Sembawang) but encountered bats each time.
Do’s & Don’ts:
If a bat flies into your home, stay calm and leave it alone. It should fly away after feeding. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap if you come into contact with it. If you’re growing a fruit tree like chiku, harvest the fruits within your premises as the bats are attracted to them; you can also install lighting or hang shiny CDs to deter the bats.
In January this year, a monkey reportedly gatecrashed a child’s birthday party in Bukit Panjang, but this was not the first time these primates have been spotted in the area. Though they largely live in the Central Catchment Area and Bukit Timah Reserve, macaques also hang around Kent Ridge Park, Changi Village and MacRitchie.
Do’s & Don’ts:
It seems that the macaque that gatecrashed the party was earlier fed by a resident before it engaged in more monkey business. Rule of thumb: Don’t feed the monkeys. If you happen to live in an area where monkeys are common, consider monkey-proofing your home by installing mesh/grilles on your windows and doors, plus secure pet entrances. Do also keep food out of sight, including prayer offers, and use a cloth bag to carry groceries as these smart primates tend to associate plastic bags with food and may accost you on your way home. Monkeys are also attracted to garbage bins, litter and fruit trees.
- Wild boars
Wild boars are usually sighted in Tuas, Thomson, Punggol, Pasir Ris, Seng Kang and Woodlands. Some known areas where wild boars live are in the Central Catchment Area and Lorong Halus. There have been reports of wild boars injuring a pregnant woman, charging at golfers with piglets in tow, and even crashing into glass doors at Seng Kang MRT station.
Do’s & Don’ts:
Wild boars usually attack when they feel threatened or cornered — that includes whipping out your mobile phone and taking a photo with flash. As they can grow up to 100kg, they’re certainly not to be trifled with so stay calm and move away slowly from the animal. Never feed them as this will encourage the mammals to return to urban areas to find food.
A 2.5m-long python was caught in Jalan Bukit Merah, in a Spooner Road flat. Other python sightings were at Pasir Ris, Bukit Batok and even via a toilet bowl in an Upper Thomson shophouse. A cobra, which is venomous, was also found in a landed property near Dover MRT. My 60-year-old aunt also single-handedly battled a python that crawled into her 4th storey Tiong Bahru home with an umbrella at night.
Do’s & Don’ts:
Snakes tend to look for dark areas to hide in, so it’s best to keep your distance and alert a professional to remove the slithering reptile. Make sure your pets and children are also kept away from the area, and close all doors in the room, except those that lead outside. If the snake is in your garden or pool, you can use water or a leaf skimmer to get it on its way. Sometimes, snakes are attracted to your birds or worse, your rodent problem.
All over Singapore it’s common for birds to occasionally hang out at the window ledge or perch on the grilles, singing their songs before looking quizzically and flying away. Some friends grouse about regularly chasing birds out of their balcony as they leave droppings everywhere. These are usually mynas, and rarely chickens, hornbills or barn owls.
Do’s & Don’ts:
Deter birds from entering your home by making sure food is not left in the open and that rubbish is swiftly taken care of. Consider also installing mesh on the windows, hanging wind chimes or applying non-toxic bird-repellent spray.
What to do if you have wildlife encounters in Singapore
Should you ever have a wildlife encounter, remember 4 things:
- These aren’t pets and can be unpredictable
- Leave them alone / leave the area
- Do not feed them!
- Call a professional
Aside from that, there are a couple of authorities you can contact for assistance.
ACRES deals with the rescue of both native and exotic wildlife, in public places or in your home (the service is free of charge, but you can donate). You can also report cases of suspected poaching or animal cruelty to them. However, refrain from calling if the animal is just roaming and doesn’t need any help / isn’t in danger / not bothering anyone.
- ACRES Wildlife Rescue Hotline — 9783 7782 (24 hours)
NParks (AVS, previously AVA)
On 1 April 2019, all non-food plant and animal related functions of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) were transferred to NParks, under the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) cluster. The AVS functions as the first responder for animal-related feedback. You can contact the AVS for enquiries and feedback on animal-related matters.
- Animal Response Centre — 1800 476 1600 (24-hours)
- Submit feedback online
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This article was written by Mary Wu, who hopes to share what she’s learnt from her home-buying and renovation journey with PropertyGuru readers. When she’s not writing, she’s usually baking up a storm or checking out a new cafe in town.