Public told: Don't handle snakes, alert authorities for safe removal

CEBU. A snake was caught and turned over to authorities after it was found in Purok Tamarind in Mandaue City.
CEBU. A snake was caught and turned over to authorities after it was found in Purok Tamarind in Mandaue City.Photos courtesy of Barangay Umapad Captain Reb Cortes

AN OFFICIAL from the Mandaue City Environment and Natural Resources Office (MCenro) warned residents not to capture snakes they may find in their backyards or residential areas.

Araceli Barlam, head of MCenro, said the residents should instead call the authorities for proper rescue and turnover operations.

She made the statement after a reticulated python, commonly known as "sawa" in the Philippines, was found on an electric post in Barangay Umapad on Thursday, February 15, 2024.

Barlam said this was the third snake found within Umapad in the past two days.

She said the barangay has many open areas where snakes could potentially inhabit.

The captured snake has already been turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Central Visayas (DENR 7) Rescue Center for examination, which will determine the current state of the reptile, including its length.

Barlam said that aside from Umapad, none of the remaining 26 barangays in the city had reported any snake sightings.

Power interruption

In a separate interview, Reb Biboy Cortes, the Umapad barangay captain, reported that the snake was found in one of the electric posts in Sitio Kalubihan 1.

The snake caused a power interruption that lasted for about six hours from 3 a.m. Thursday, February 15.

Residents believe the snake caused the explosion of the post's transformer where it reportedly coiled up.

Cortes said the area surrounding the post contained a wide area with lots of trees and bushes where the snake could have lived. He believes the snake came out possibly to hunt for food.

Cortes said the first snake was found in Purok Tamarind about three months ago. A resident tried to pet it, but it was later turned over to the authorities since the owner said he ran out of food to sustain the snake.

The snake was believed to be some kind of house snake with a length of around two meters.

The second snake sighting was in Purok Tambis, where a two-meter reticulated python was found also in an area that contained lots of trees and a mini poultry sometime this week. It had already been turned over to the authorities.

Cortes said the third snake found on Wednesday, also a reticulated python, was more or less two meters as well.

Do not kill

Cortes advised residents that if they capture snakes, they should not kill them but instead turn them over to the barangay for proper rescue procedures.

This is also to spare possible contamination, especially if the snake is venomous.

Barlam also advised residents not to touch any snakes they may find in their area, but instead call their respective barangays to contact MCenro for assistance.

She said once the MCenro is notified, they will coordinate with the Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MCDRRMO) to rescue the snake.

The rescued snake will then be turned over to the DENR Rescue Center.

El Niño

On Thursday, February 15, public health experts gathered at the Department of Health (DOH) 7 in Cebu City to address the increasing number of cobra encounters in the region, particularly in Cebu, in recent months.

According to the DOH, the disruption of habitats, including deforestation, has emerged as a crucial factor contributing to the increased snake activity.

The health office also mentioned that the successive snake sightings could be related to the ongoing El Niño phenomenon, climate change, and human interference with natural habitats.

In a report on January 29, Carlo Babiera, an ecosystems management specialist at the DENR 7, said the encroachment of human settlements into natural habitats has disrupted ecosystems, pushing snakes out of their accustomed territories to search for food in other places, including residential areas infested with rodents.

Meanwhile, toxicologist Beethoven Bongon at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center urged the public to always clean their surroundings as a preventive measure to reduce the attractiveness of homes to rats.

Bongon assured the public that there is antivenom available for those who will receive the shot.

The antivenom is available at the VSMMC Poison Control Center and is called polyvalent, effective against three cobra species, including King Cobras, Philippine Cobras, and Samar Cobras. (HIC)


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