Some people outside Tang Plaza in Orchard Road were in for a slithery shock yesterday morning.
A python, about 3m long, was spotted under a stone bench outside the Orchard Road MRT station exit near Tangs.
Housewife Tess Fernando, 49, said her son saw it on his way to school at around 8.20am, and sent her a photo of the snake.
"I went down to see it for myself. It was huge," she told The Straits Times, adding that a large crowd had gathered by the time she arrived.
In a video provided by Ms Fernando, at least five men can be seen struggling with the large snake as it thrashes about, resisting capture.
A passer-by, who wished to be known only as Ms Goh, said she saw staff from a pest control company trying to remove the reptile. A security guard from Tang Plaza helped out as well, she added.
"There was some difficulty in (putting) the snake into a bag," said the 27-year-old retail executive.
In a video provided by Ms Goh, seven to eight men can be seen struggling to get the snake into a brown bag. But their attempt failed.
In some videos, three men are seen carrying the python away.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) told ST that the python was removed and handed over to Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Some of the men handling the snake wore shirts indicating they were from Anticimex, a pest control firm. But Anticimex said it could not comment on the incident.
In some videos, the snake appears to attack one of the men. The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) believes the man was bitten.
"The snake was stepped on and handled very roughly,"said Acres deputy chief executive Kalai Vanan, adding that snakes are wild animals protected by law.
Citing video clips that show the snake being dragged, veteran wildlife expert Subaraj Rajathurai said: "You call pest control for rats. Snakes, which are wild animals, are not pests. These firms are not usually trained to handle such animals," said the founder of Strix Wildlife Consultancy.
He said it is likely the snake emer-ged from the drainage system connected to the underground Stamford Canal that runs along Orchard Road.
AVA said it is investigating the alleged mishandling of the snake, and added that cruelty to animals is an offence under the Animals and Birds Act. It said it "will not hesitate to take enforcement actions against offenders".
AVA issues guidelines on proper handling of snakes to all pest control and wildlife management agencies.
Acres urged members of the public to call its wildlife rescue hotline on 9783-7782 should they see wild animals in distress. AVA also advised the public not to approach, disturb, feed or try to catch any wildlife, including snakes.
More information can be found at AVA's website. The public can also call AVA on 1800-476-1600 to give feedback or to request assistance.