Sunday, September 16, 2007

Fun with Snakes on 15 Sep 2007

Twenty-fourth discovery posting:

(Entry @ 17 Sep 2007: Correction of activities done at Station 3 and 4, thanks to Dr Vilma for informing me about the actual activities being carried out)

Puzzle of the day: What are they doing? (picture below)

Guess: Creating a new Guinness record for the longest human body chain?

Read on to find out...
As i looked around where the kids were lying down, i spotted some sea hollies (picture below), 'first discovery'.Discovery Note:
1. These plants have no relation whatsoever with the Christmas Holly, although they appear similar.
2. The Sea Holly grows on mud near the hide tide mark or along river banks. But it grows especially well in areas with more freshwater input.
3. Unlike some mangrove plants, Sea Holly does not exclude salt at the root level. In fact, their sap is salty and excess salt is secreted through the leaves, to be removed by rain or wind.
4. Sometimes, the excess salt can be seen as a white crystalline layer on the upper surface on their leaves.

First look, you might think, "Hey, this looks like Sungei Buloh."

Well, Pasir Ris park was the location, and the mangrove boardwalk within the park was the place where the NSS education group held "Fun with Snakes".

Side Note:
Visit NSS's website here for more activities by them.

The picture below shows Nick (future teacher) leading the participants to the registration point.
Puzzle of the day (Answer):
How many children do you think we need to form the length of a python we can find in Singapore?

Here, the kids had estimate and then lie down to get the answer themselves (picture below).

Well, the longest python sighted in Singapore was about 8 meters in length, how many children do you think we need to form the length of this 8 meter python?
As i was supposed to be stationed at a station, i quickly moved towards the location of my station before the kids moved out. And on the way back, i spotted quite a few of tree climbing crabs, here is one of them (picture below), second 'discovery'.
Discovery Note:
1. Tree-climbing crabs can be seen easily in the day from the boardwalk. At this time, they usually climb only high enough to clear the water level and remain motionless on tree-trunks, leaves or boardwalk legs.
2. This is probably a predator-avoidance behaviour, especially with the many predatory species of fish and crabs that hunt with the incoming tide.
3. At night time or dusk, they emerge to feed on the forest floor and have been seen climbing up trees to heights of more than six metres to graze on algae as well as eating leaves.

As soon the kids reached the gathering point for a introduction to snakes, they were asked to draw a picture on how they think a snake would look like to them (picture below).
Their completed drawings = Kids' Snake Art exhibition (pictures below):Look at the picture below, i don't think i need to write much on what was the next activity the kids had.On the event, we also had Chee Kong (who really know loads about snakes) with us to give everyone a short talk on the differences between humans and snakes.
Discovery Note (Some differences between humans and snakes):
1. Humans are warm-blooded while snakes are cold-blooded.
2. Humans give birth to their young alive while snakes lays eggs or give birth to their young alive.
3. Humans have limbs (arms and legs) while snakes don't.
4. Snakes have scales while humans don't.
5. Snakes shed (completely) every few months while humans shed (little bits here and there) everyday.

Challenge of the day: Are you able to list out some more differences or even similarities? =)

After a comprehensive introduction, the children were grouped into 4 groups and proceeded to different stations.

The station master for station 1 was Chee Kong himself (pictures below), i won't write what station 1 was about, as the answer lies within the pictures.
Discovery Note (What & How do snakes eat):
1. All snakes are carnivorous
or you can say they only eat meat.
2. Some snakes have a venomous bite, which they use to kill their prey before eating it.

3. Other snakes kill their prey by constriction or called 'wrapping you up and then squeezing you to death'.

4. Still others swallow their prey whole and alive.

Just next to station 1 was station 2, it was about where do snakes live and how do snakes move. There was also two videos at this station where the kids could watch. One was about a flying snake, the paradise tree snake, the other, a swimming snake, the yellow-lipped sea krait.

How did i know so much? Well, i was the station master. =P
Discovery Note:
1. The paradise tree snake does not have wings to fly, actually it doesn't fly, it glides.
2. Before getting airborne, the paradise tree snake hangs from from a branch, looks for a spot to land, and then they leap off the branch to their landing spot.
3. Read more about how they do it at here.

Side Note:
1. There is a person, Jake Socha, who studies the flight of the paradise tree snake, read his dedicated website for the flying snake here.
2. At his website, you can also find videos of how does the paradise tree snake 'flies'.

(Entry @ 17 Sep 2007: What was Station 3 and 4 about?)

Station 3 was about how snakes grow and how they shed their skin. And a story called "Verdi" (about a young snake who didn't want to grow up) was also read to the kids.

Station 4 was about informing the kids on which snakes are common and which are rare, what do you do if you encounter a snake and of course some conservation messages for snakes.

It was a pity that i couldn't look at how was Station 3 and 4 conducted as i had to be at station 2. But there is always another time!

Anyway, once everyone had completed all the 4 stations, the kids then proceeded on a art and craft project, refer to the pictures below for the process and completed products.
A snake hunt, spotting of snakes within the mangrove forest was the last and most anticipated part of the event. The children and their parents were brought into the dark mangrove forest (on the boardwalk) to spot snakes. Although i couldn't join the 'hunt' as i stayed back to look after possessions, i heard that they spotted the dog-faced water snake and crab eating water snake. Wow!

But that wasn't the last activity for us though, after every child and parent had left the boardwalk, we went on a 'hunt' ourselves. The location of the 'hunt' wasn't on the boardwalk, but the sides of the water near the mangrove forest.

Reaching the site, everyone shone their torches into the waters and every now and then, a snake was spotted.

Here's one which Chee Kong 'picked' up from the water, a dog-faced water snake (picture below), third 'discovery'!Discovery Note:
1. The dog-faced water snake feeds largely on fish trapped in mud puddles during the low tide.
2. Their eyes are positioned on the top of their heads so that they can remain with their body submerged in water and yet are able to see above the surface.

3. They have poisonous fangs on the back of their jaws, but their venom is not known to have any serious effects on humans.

4. They give birth to living young, and appear to be largely nocturnal in habits.

Finally, like to thank Dr Vilma for letting me to help in the event, Chee Kong for teaching everyone more for snakes, everyone who helped and of course all the participants!

Last Note:
If you are interested in snakes, you can read more about them on SLOG (Singapore Snakes Blog), where Chee Kong is one of the contributing writers.


tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

OMG, Chee Kong! If u r reading this, must say u looked 10 years younger that ur actual age in the photo! If I dun know u beforehand, would hv thot that u r a secondary school student! Haha...

DreamerJuly said...


Not really sure how old Chee Kong is.. but he does look young like in his early 20s..

Just my tots.. =P

tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

Ahem... he's older than u...

DreamerJuly said...


Ai ya, i'm just not born with a 'younger' face.. fated to be called a uncle at this age by young kids..hahaha =P