Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Penelope Phoebe Python

From the Star Online:

Members of Malaysia's Civil Defence Force pose with a python, that they estimated to be 7.5m (24.6 ft) long and 250kg (551 pounds) in weight, caught near a construction site in Paya Terubong, Penang. - Reuters.

GEORGE TOWN: The 7.5m long python that slithered into the spotlight recently has died.

The reptile, weighing some 250kg, is said to have died on Sunday.

However, it is learnt that the python, believed to be Penang's largest and longest caught so far, had laid an egg a day earlier.

Representatives from the Civil Defence Department (JPAM) said they would provide details of the python on Tuesday.

The snake drew international attention shortly after it was caught at a flyover that was being built in Paya Terubong on Thursday after workers spotted it.

Six JPAM personnel were deployed to catch the reptile that was found under a fallen tree approximately 100m from the nearest road.

Its name was Penelope (wakakaka), Penelope Phoebe Python that was. Don't ask me how I know - it's a secret.

But I wonder how old it was and what it had fed on to grow to such a length (mentioned as 7.5 metres, then 8, then 7.5 again), which has been reported by news media as possibly the longest snake in the world to be ever caught.

Female reticulated pythons normally lay batches of 10 to 15 eggs, not just one. Years ago I saw a caged reticulated python at a restaurant in Kuching with a dozen eggs by her side.

The Guardian (Australian edition) reported (extracts): The sudden death of the animal, estimated after its capture to be 8 metres, just days after it was found has led to concerns that it was mishandled.

Shazree Mustapha, a public relations officer at Malaysia’s Civil Defence Force, said the python “died on her own.”

“Maybe she committed suicide. Maybe she felt threatened so she killed herself,” he said, adding he was not certain this was the reason for its demise.

Committed suicide? Killed herself? Wakakaka, you're cute, Shazree, definitely far more cute than the MACC prosecutor in the inquest into Teoh Beng Hock's mysterious (yet not so mysterious) death, Abdul Razak Musa who suggested that TBH strangled himself because he was 'depressive'.

Malaysiakini reported (extracts only):

Abdul Razak next had the gallery groaning in disbelief when he suggested that Teoh had strangled himself and was "depressive".

Interestingly, when asked by Gobind Singh Deo, who is representing Teoh's family, how someone can strangle himself,
the MACC representative went as far as to demonstrate this on himself.

[I wish I was there to see that]

If that was not enough, Abdul Razak riled up those in the gallery further by suggesting to Pornthip that her report was "based on her imagination".

In an effort to make his point, he asked if Pornthip has any experience jumping off a building.

Exasperated by the barrage of provocative questions Malik Imtiaz Sarwar - representing Pornthip and the Selangor government - stood up to say: “With questions like these, we would all want to jump off a building.”

Ooops, sorry to digress so back to the Guardian's report - However, ... Raymond Hoser, who runs snake handling courses (in Australia), ........ said that snakes do not kill themselves and the python likely died due to internal injuries.

“Snakes don’t just drop dead. If they die there is a reason,” he told the Guardian.

“The most likely reason is injuries sustained when caught or after being caught. Snakes are relatively delicate animals,” he said. He added that when nooses are used on snakes, the animal will struggle which can lead to broke bones and internal bleeding.

“If they used a noose to catch the snake, that has caused the injury that has caused the death.”

Other than its usual diet in the wild of monkeys, birds, musang (civet cats), wild pigs and sometimes deers and in Sarawak, even honey bears, the Malaysian reticulated pythons love to eat domesticated pigs, goats, calves, dogs, cats, fowls, rats and for the larger specimens, even homo sapiens.

Perhaps the police needs to re-examine its records of missing people in Paya Terubong in the last thirty years or so, gawd gulp omigosh, an area in which I as a kid used to roam around in the nearby belukar and jungle, catching fighting spiders - phew!

Wikipedia reports (and members of my family testified to the veracity of the tragic incident as they read of it in The Star years ago):

On September 4, 1995, Ee Heng Chuan, a 29-year-old rubber tapper from the southern Malaysian state of Johor, was reported to have been killed by a large reticulated python.

The victim had apparently been caught unaware and was squeezed to death. The snake had coiled around the lifeless body with the victim's head gripped in its jaws when it was stumbled upon by the victim's brother.

The python, reported as measuring 23 ft (7.0 m) long and weighing more than 300 lb, was killed soon after by the arriving police, who shot it four times

My Uncle told me that (from the Star report which was far more accurate than above) Ee had gone to his fiancĂ©e's house with his elder brother to discuss wedding arrangements. While his brother was talking to his future in-laws, he went to the back to have a dump.

Dunny's (WC; jamban) in rural areas are usually located about 10 to 20 metres or so at the back from the house, like the dunny for my kampong house in the rural part of Ayer Itam. On the way there he met the python and his tragic end.

When he didn't return after too long a time, his brother and members of the in-laws went looking for him. That was when they saw the snake with only his two legs still unswallowed.

After the police shot the snake, the villagers went on a python-hunting rampage the following day, destroying many pythons and allegedly their nests in the nearby belukar and jungle.

But back to Penelope, it's just a guilty thought - I'm afraid I might have been responsible for its premature death. Now this is a secret between you and me so please don't tell anyone.

When it was caught, I asked a matey in Penang to ask it (yes, it understands human talk as snakes of such size and age possess kesaktian, like Saktimuna, their legendary ancestor in Sumatra) whether we could feed it an annoying person.

And when we named the person, it was so repulsed, revolted and repelled by the sort of shit we proposed to feed it that it vomited, whence out from its mouth spew forth an egg. Then it died of fear and gross revulsion at the thought of swallowing Nathaniel ..., wakakaka.

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