Thanks to its cultural diversity, incredible architecture, spectacular malls, unparalleled cleanliness, and one-of-a-kind leisure parks, Singapore has become an increasingly popular travel destination. Still, it might surprise you to know there’s more than its contemporary center.
Singapore is a tropical island and happens to be home to an array of poisonous bugs, spiders, and snakes. Most of them don’t pose too much of a threat to humans, but it’s a good idea to know which to avoid, especially since there’s a chance you’ll bump into at least one when gallivanting this wonderful Southeast Asian nation.
Fortunately, we’ve created a guide covering everything you need to know about the most dangerous animals in Singapore, from where to find them to what you should be wary of, and what to do should you get bitten or stung by one. Keep reading for a problem-free trip, let’s get into it.
Yellow Sac Spider
Kicking off our list, we have the infamous Yellow Sac Spider. With their small size and yellow bodies, these critters might not appear immediately dangerous, but don’t be fooled, they’re armed and deadly. Their venom is a cytotoxin, meaning it can break down cells and slowly kill the area of flesh surrounding a bite, with the pain from the bite often being compared to that of a brown recluse spider.
Even so, it is usually less severe, and the wound tends to heal faster but the risk of infection can make these bites fatal. In the unlikely event that a yellow sac spider bites you, your best course of action would be to apply ice and elevate the bite site. Bites typically improve within a few hours – two to three days at most, but we recommend seeking medical attention immediately if the symptoms persist or worsen. You will most likely be prescribed antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.
Yellow sac spiders are quite aggressive by nature, with female yellow sac spiders being prone to biting when defending their eggs, and bites also occur when they’re trapped in clothing.
Nevertheless, sac spider bites aren’t considered to be as serious as that of brown recluse or hobo spider, and the seriousness of bites varies greatly. Symptoms usually include an immediate burning sensation, similar to that of a hornet sting, which is followed by redness and mild swelling. In rare cases, a person could also become mildly ill or be left with a blister, which could leave a wound that will heal over a few weeks.
Black Spitting Cobra
The black spitting cobra might be beautiful and generally unaggressive, but its venom packs a serious punch. This medium-sized reptile is native to Singapore, and they have thick bodies, short tails, rounded snouts, and distinctive heads. They’re widely considered to be one of the most dangerous snakes in the world, so exercise caution near rivers, streams, and forests, where they typically reside.
Luckily, this snake will only attack when threatened, frightened or agitated. Nevertheless, with Singapore’s rapidly expanding developments reaching the more rural parts of Singapore, the snake has been spotted in outhouses and garages, so keep those eyes peeled.
When threatened, these snakes will stand erect, expand their hood and hiss loudly, but they could potentially spit their venom at unbelievable speeds too, with the venom being able to travel a distance of almost two meters. This behavior is usually reserved for hunting to blind their prey, but they’ve also been known to use this as a defensive maneuver against humans.
They can also bite, and release venom that attacks the nervous system as soon as its administered. That being said, there are several anti-venoms, and there haven’t been any recorded deaths from these snakes in recent years.
We’re willing to bet that you’ve had to contend with hornets at some point in your life, and while a lone hornet sting might not be considered life-threatening, the tables can turn if you disturb a nest.
The most dangerous species of hornets in Singapore has to be the Lesser Banded Hornet. Their nests tend to be built high up in forested areas, but it’s still strongly recommended to steer clear if you do come across one and calmly walk away.
Hornets don’t have barbs on their sting, and they can sting well over 10 times per minute, with stings from a swarm being potentially life-threatening. The biggest risk is posed to those with allergies when a hornet sting can cause immediate anaphylactic shock, cardiac arrest, and even death.
Needles to say, it’s best to avoid any nest, and curious children, in particular, should be warned of this to avoid any unnecessary danger.
Paradise Tree Snake
These colorful climbing snakes tend to nestle at the tops of coconut trees and grow to around 1.2 meters in length. Paradise tree snakes typically hunt small arboreal lizards by paralyzing them with their venom.
An interesting tidbit about these reptiles is the fact that they can glide through the air from tree to tree by flattening their stomachs to increase air resistance. They can travel amazing distances of up to 100 meters too, but they still tend to crash into branches, the ground, or coconut pickers’ faces when they land, so maintain a heightened awareness if you find yourself in any woodland in Singapore.
Their discernable features include slender bodies, long tails, and patterned, dark-edged yellow scales. Having said that, it’s important to note that some have red patterning along the dorsal surface too. Nevertheless, any snake in a tropical country is best to avoid.
Wear high boots when you’re in the jungle and be extra careful at night when snakes are out hunting. Avoiding disturbing logs or pits is also recommended as most snakes choose these habitats as their homes.
These attractive conical shelled snails are far more menacing than they appear. You might not have thought the French delicacy could cause any harm, but the cone snail harpoons its prey and swallows it whole.
Undeniably expert hunters, they sniff out prey using their breathing tubes before launching a barbed “harpoon” into them, with a poison that paralyzes, allowing the snail to slowly wolf prey down.
The sting of a smaller cone snail of around 10 cm long is generally compared to a bee sting, but an attack from a bigger species of around 15 cm in length could prove to be fatal to humans. As such, you should exercise caution around mangroves, rocky areas, and places with sandy bottoms, since they tend to seek habitats there.
The stings are usually painless, but they’re immediately followed by numbness, tingling or burning, and localized tissue death, so it would be a good idea to seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms. Infection can also occur from untreated wounds. You shouldn’t handle any snails that appear conical or dig into the sand with your bare hands either.
Lesser Brown Scorpion
These small, but dangerous nocturnal creatures of around five cm long, have the incredible ability to glow in the dark. Amazingly, these scorpions give off blue light from a part of their shells called the hyaline when UV light is shone on them, but they’re not just fascinating to look at, they can be deadly too.
Lesser Brown Scorpions boast large pincers and a stinging tail that they can jab repeatedly into their prey, like spiders, millipedes, and even small rodents. In addition to its four pairs of clawed legs, and long tail, the lesser brown scorpion also has large pedipalps, which gives it an almost crab-like appearance.
They aren’t considered to be life-threatening to humans, but their sting can be quite painful and cause swelling. Generally, these scorpions seek habitats beneath loose rocks, fallen tree bark, or debris, but they’ve also turned up under houses, in attics, kitchens, washrooms, closets, folded blankets, and shoes.
If you or a fellow traveler happen to get stung by a scorpion, make sure to clean the sting site well, apply a cool compress and take pain medication as needed. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
Brown House Spider
Also known as the Brown Recluse or Violin spider, the Brown House Spider is a common sight throughout the world. Typically they aren’t aggressive towards humans and have long legs as well as a nearly hairless body that measures roughly a quarter-inch with a dark violin-shaped marking on the back of the front portion. Tan or gray in color, they might not stand out much, but you should still steer clear of them.
A bite from a brown house spider can lead to rotting skin lesions, while its venom targets phospholipid molecules in flesh, which make up a good portion of cell membranes, and can transform them into simpler lipids. The resulting wound could take quite a few months to heal, and there’s also the risk of infection, which can be fatal.
Only about 10 percent of brown recluse spider bites are dangerous, and the wounds generally heal very nicely, often without medical intervention or treatment. Nonetheless, we recommend applying ice to the wound and seeking emergency medical treatment, should you get bitten.
Hence the reclusive nature from which they get their name, these spiders are usually found in caves, rodent burrows, and other undisturbed spaces like attics, storage areas, and wall or ceiling voids. They often travel in packs, so chances are there will be more lurking around the corner if you come across one.
Usually, bites occur when the spider is caught in clothing, but they’ll only attack as a last resort. Generally, they don’t administer their venom with these bites. Nevertheless, if you do receive a venomous bite from one of these spiders, it is important that this is treated as soon as possible.
Does Singapore have venomous snakes?
Singapore might be a lusted, luxury island with towering skyscrapers and modern attractions at every turn, but there are plenty of poisonous animals among its tropical inhabitants, including venomous snakes. There are seven species of highly venomous snakes that are native to Singapore. These include the king cobra, the Malayan blue coral snake, the banded krait, the banded coral snake, the spitting cobra, and the Wagler’s pit viper.
Does Singapore have bears?
Singapore is made up of around two percent forest, and within these, as well as the many zoos, you can see bears in Singapore. The sun bear is one of the most feisty species, despite its small size, and it populates the jungles of Southeast Asia in high numbers. Sun bears are known to attack unprovoked and even battle tigers and pythons, but you’re more likely to spot them at Singapore Zoo than anywhere in the wild.
Is Singapore safe?
Despite its rife population of exotic animals, Singapore is one of the safest nations in the world with low rates of violent and petty crime, protection against natural disasters, an efficient legal system, and law-abiding citizens. The biggest threat to visiting Singapore is burning a hole in your pocket, as the island-state is not only expensive but also dubbed “The Fine City” for all the punishable offenses tourists encounter.
Are there sharks in Singapore?
Several species of shark live in Singapore’s all surrounding waters and visitors to the island can even swim with them, as most species are non-threatening. Positioned between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, Singapore is also no stranger to bull sharks, but they’re usually only spotted in very deep waters and tend not to be aggressive if not under threat. There have been zero fatal shark attacks in Singapore in the last fifty years. The cute and timid bamboo shark is the most common species spotted in Singapore’s waters.