JAKARTA: The prolonged dry season has hastened the hatching of cobra eggs, leading to more snake sightings in Indonesia.
“The increase in snake numbers is an annual event. Coincidentally, this year the breeding cycle was greatly affected by the prolonged dry season, which will increase the hatching of cobra eggs from December until February,” Jakarta Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Jakarta) Ahmad Munawir said on Friday (Dec 20).
He added that this should not be cause for alarm but instead an opportunity for education and more understanding about how to handle snakes, especially cobras.
According to the Jakarta Post, authorities have received at least 45 reports of cobra sightings in Jakarta in the first two weeks of December.
Other cities on Java island and Gowa in South Sulawesi have also reported more sightings of cobras and other snakes in residential areas after this year’s long dry season.
In Bekasi city, which borders Jakarta, officials said they have caught about 50 cobras in 20 separate incidents, the report added.
In a Twitter update on Dec 17, the Jakarta Fire and Rescue Department said they retrieved 13 young cobras near a weekly street market.
A video of the operation shows fire and rescue officials placing the black snakes into a plastic bottle.
On the same day, Jakarta authorities retrieved another young cobra from a local museum in Cilandak, a district in South Jakarta.
On Dec 16, about nine young cobras were retrieved from a home in the district of Cakung in East Jakarta during a two hour operation.
Cobras are not the only snakes species that have been sighted.
Indonesian authorities said they successfully caught a King Koros snake at a building in Central Jakarta on Dec 15, while a large python was captured on Dec 13 in North Jakarta.
Head of the Indonesia Environment and Forestry Ministry’s genetics resources division, Mohamad Haryono, was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying that snakes lay their eggs during the dry season, and more eggs are laid if the season is prolonged.
"Once the rainy season comes, all the eggs hatch. Meanwhile, the rains have started to flood the holes where they live, causing them to look for drier and higher areas like the residential areas," he said.
Indonesian Institute of Sciences herpetologist Dr Amir Hamidy said members of the public should keep their homes neat and get rid additional items that may serve as shelter for the snakes.
Dr Amir also recommended homeowners use scented floor cleaners as snakes dislike strong scents.
Food waste should also not be left around the home as this attracts mice, which cobras prey on, he added.
In the event of a cobra bite, victims are advised to immediately seek treatment at the nearest hospital.
The Indonesian Institute of Sciences said that victims should not apply a tourniquet to the wounded area as this may impair blood flow.
They should also elevate the wound to above heart or chest height and abstain from medication like aspirin or traditional remedies.