Just like your little one, Nature can be both naughty and nice.
Heed these tips to protect your child and family from wildlife in Singapore and when traveling abroad.
Monkeys spotted along the MacRitchie Reservoir Treetop Walk trail. image
1. Keep your distance
These little creatures have up to four times the strength of a human being, and can react unpredictably.
Avoid smiling directly at them or making any gesture showing your teeth. To a monkey, it’s a sign of threat and may prompt them to attack.
2. Keep your belongings close to you
Monkeys are adorable creatures, but not so much when they steal your lunch.
The monkeys at Singapore’s nature reserves (and other monkey hotspots) are notorious for raiding belongings for food, leaving you hungry and stuck in the middle of a nature trail with no food and feeling grumpy.
They can even detect food that’s still in its packaging, so keep your friends close, but your food closer.
3. Don’t feed them
Giving food to one monkey will attract even more of them, and before you know it, you’ll be running from a trail of monkeys chasing you.
And most importantly, don’t taunt them!
4. Show them your empty palms
If a monkey shows hostile signs like baring its teeth or staring death into your soul, show them your empty palms.
Most acts of monkey aggression are a result of them thinking you have food. If you do, throw it in their direction as a last resort; if you don’t, hold out your empty palms to show them so.
1. Never leave your toddler alone with a dog
Even the most well-trained domestic dog might unleash its animalistic instincts – you might’ve heard about the dog who was lying in bed with its human family one minute and bit the child to death the next.
The culprit – looks innocent, doesn’t it? image
You never know what unexpected trigger might set a dog off. Furthermore, a dog will be afraid of the bigger physical size of an adult, but not your defenceless toddler.
2. Keep your distance
Teach your child never to simply walk up to any dog to touch or pat it, even if it’s on a leash.
If it’s someone else’s dog, ask the owner’s permission before approaching it. If it’s a stray dog, keep your distance! You don’t know how it’s going to react, and it’s probably carrying tons of bacteria.
3. Don’t panic
There is truth to the old adage that dogs can sense fear. It might be hard for your child to avoid getting agitated and keep their calm, but teach them to do so anyway in case of a dog attack.
If you see a dog showing signs of aggression towards your child, try to distract it with another object – offer it something to chew on, such as a water bottle. Anything but a limb.
1. Know the warning signs
As with all other wildlife, watch out for signs of aggression.
Snakes raise their heads and hiss (or rattle their tails of they’re rattlesnakes) when agitated. If they’re curling up slightly, they might be trying to gain extra distance in preparation to strike.
2. Alert others
Snakes don’t hear noise, so if you spot one, you can alert others by sound without the worry of agitating the snake.
However, avoid making big or sudden movements such as waving your arms as the snake could misinterpret it as hostility.
3. But leave them alone
Most snakes you’ll ever spot in Singapore are pythons, and contrary to popular belief (thank you, media!), most are shy creatures and will usually move away or hide when seen to avoid human contact.
Up to 95% of snake bites occur only when people try to catch, kill, or trigger hostility in the snake in some way.
Sure, their striking is swift and seemingly aggressive, but even their strikes are defensive, not aggressive, behaviour that they only display when they feel threatened. Point being, if you don’t trigger them, they (probably) won’t bite you. Just back away slowly.
Spotted: an unexpected visitor near a mangrove swamp in Pasir Ris Park. image
1. KEEP. YOUR. DISTANCE.
First things first: yes, there are crocodiles in Singapore. Some lurk in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and Kranji Reservoir, to name a few, and others have paid surprise visits in parks and swamps from time to time.
And the best way to survive a crocodile encounter is to, you know, never meet one in the first place.
A sign warning visitors against crocodiles at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. image
Take warning signs about crocodiles seriously; if a potential swimming area is unmarked, don’t assume that it’s safe.
2. Alert the authorities
If you do spot a crocodile, back away slowly, don’t scream and run!
Once at a safe distance, call the Public Utilities Board’s 24-hour call centre on 1800-284-6600 or the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s Animal Response Centre on 1800-476-1600 to alert them of the sighting.
1. They bear grudges
So don’t offend them. They’re smarter than they look, and will gather their homies to come back to bite you. (And their homies will also gather their homies. You’re doomed.)
Perhaps less so in Singapore, but do take note in countries like Europe and Canada where the birds are much fiercer.
2. Keep it clean
Crows thrive on garbage like food waste. The more you leave your waste lying around, the more you’re feeding them, and the more they’ll multiply. Nope. Nope nope nope.
1. Pay attention to their body language
In general, avoid making eye contact as it might trigger an attack.
Importantly, it’s not just predators you need to look out for. Animals like hogs and moose can become aggressive if triggered too, especially during mating season.
Look out for signs of aggressiveness from the animal. Other examples: birds lunge swiftly in your direction; if you spot wasps flying in a swarm rather than singularly, you probably pissed them off unknowingly.
2. Practice preventive measures
When camping, store your food in airtight containers and pack them away in an opaque, closed bag.
Hang leftover food high enough in a tree to be out of reach for animals looking for an easy meal.
By Pinky Chng, June 2016