Monitor lizard hiding under train removed from SMRT's Bishan Depot

A video sent to Stomp showed staff prodding something in the undercarriage of a parked train with poles, sticks and dustpans. The lizard was then grabbed by its tail and dragged out of the premises. PHOTOS: STOMP

SINGAPORE - A monitor lizard turned up at SMRT's train depot in Bishan on Tuesday (Nov 28), and was dragged out by depot staff.

A video sent to Stomp showed staff shining a torchlight and prodding something in the undercarriage of a parked train with poles, sticks and dustpans.

After a while, a monitor lizard fell to the ground. Staff could be heard calling for it to be chased out of the premises.

They tried to guide it out by pushing it with their tools as it crawled along. This caused the lizard to open its mouth aggressively, and it even whipped its tail a few times.

In the end, a staff member grabbed it by its tail and dragged it out of the premises, sprinting as fast as he could before the creature could turn around and bite him.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, Mr Patrick Nathan, SMRT's vice-president for corporate communications, said: "A monitor lizard was found in one of our depots yesterday (Nov 28) and was removed."

Netizens however, were critical of the way the lizard was handled by SMRT staff. "The animal is not at fault. Correct to chase it away but the way they do it is wrong. I find it pitiful... it must have got lost," wrote Facebook user Herman Zain on the Everyday SG page, where the video was also posted.

Another Facebook user, ShuYun Leong, added: "Wild animals should not be treated this way. These people using dustpans and pulling it by the tail is not the right way, and they still laugh like it is a comedy."

According to Animal Concerns Research & Education Society's (Acres) deputy chief executive Kalai Balakrishnan, the handling of such animals should be left to experienced wildlife rescue organisations.

"The presence of many people and the use of sticks to prod the lizard, which was most likely a water monitor, and the dragging of its tail, can cause the animal to get very stressed," he said.

The lizard could potentially be harmed in the process and become very defensive, which may result in someone getting bitten.

Mr Kalai added: "For this case, one thing we noted in the video was that we could hear the staff saying what they wanted was to chase the lizard out. We appreciate the effort and intention."

However, he said it would have been better if they had called for professional help, and urged the public to call the Acres hotline on 97837782.

Water monitor lizards are commonly found in Singapore.

There were two lizard sightings in February: One was run over after holding up traffic near the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway in the Buangkok area, while another was spotted swimming at Jurong East Swimming Complex.

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