Dubai community residents on high alert after repeated snake sightings


Jumierah Park residents stay cautious after multiple snake sightings.

Residents of Jumeirah Park claim they are living in constant fear after recurring snake sightings in the vicinity. Recent reports of venomous snake sighting in Jumeirah Park have sparked alarm among residents who say they are keeping their children indoors and also avoiding to sit in their backyards.

Scottish expat Shona Slater, who has been living in Jumeirah Park for four years, said they first encountered a snake in their garden in August. “Our gardener found it lurking in the trees. When he pulled it out using a rake, it was a kind of viper snake. He managed to kill the snake.”

On November 2, the Slaters’ nanny found another snake in their garden while tidying children’s garden toys. “The children had been playing with the toys about 5pm on Friday, so it appeared some time through the night. We have two children aged six and three and I’m now terrified of their safety, as this was the second snake we’ve had in our backyard. The children love being outside and the weather is now so lovely for them to enjoy the outdoors. I understand that we live next to a large sand area, but it’s still scary when they’re closer than you’d want them to be.”

Lauding the Dubai Municipality, Slater said: “The municipality has been great for their swift action and they came at once to spray our garden with the required liquids to keep the snakes off. However, we are also concerned about the whole community as there have been other incidents in the homes as well as parks but no spraying or any other action was done in the area.”

In another close encounter with a saw-scaled viper, one of the deadliest snakes found in the UAE, Jumeirah Park resident Hana Sawaya said she saw strange coloured head popping out from between some plants. “I was working in my garden bare feet, bare hands, wearing shorts when I noticed a strange movement between the plants. I dismissed it as some lizard but when I used a stick to investigate, to my horror I saw it was a snake. I panicked and didn’t know what to do as it was next to my kitchen. I tried hitting it but it slipped away.”

Sawaya also called the municipality and workers came immediately to spray her garden. “This incident has affected me psychologically as I now fear of seeing a snake whenever I enter my garden. I also noticed two days back my dog was acting strange. It seemed fearful and was trying to hide. I now can correlate it with the snake sighting because the snake was found in the area next to where my dogs play.”

Jumeirah Park developer Nakheel said it received no direct reports about the snake sighting. “Though rare, this is a seasonal occurrence that can happen anywhere in Dubai. In any such event, residents are advised to contact the Dubai Municipality and not to take the matter into their own hands.”

Wildlife expert Dr Reza Khan said: “The issue is that we have built our communities in areas that were originally the territory of these reptiles. While they disappeared earlier because of the noise and construction, now as people have settled in, slowly these reptiles find a safe home in their gardens and backyards.”

Dr Khan said snakes come to a compound for shade from the scorching sun and for food. Therefore people should clear up their yards, as snakes usually hide under trash, piled up rubbish and garden hedges. Since they are nocturnal, they are not easily seen during the day.

He said in order to keep reptiles out, the boundary fence of the house should be designed in such a way that from ground and up to half a metre there should be a thick plastic (reusable) barrier. “If you want to secure your backyard from poisonous snakes then you can put thick polythene sheet (reusable) from 2-3 inches under the sand and up to 50-70cm upwards on the fence. No venomous snake can cross this barrier as plastic (reusable) is slippery.”

How to find whether a snake is venomous

All venomous snakes will have a big diamond shaped head and narrow neck, while the non-venomous snakes will have a slim head and body. This is because venomous snakes require a venom gland and biting teeth which need more space to be accommodated.

What to do if you encounter a snake

>Whether the snake is venomous or non-venomous, do not go close to it as it will immediately strike, fearing of a human attack.

>Do not ever attempt to handle the snake or approach it on your own. Just call the Dubai Municipality at 800900

>If you are courageous enough, just take a 1.5 litre water bottle, open its lid and hold it from the back to keep in front of the snake. You will see that the snake will go inside it.

>In case of a snake bite, do not try to give first aid but call for the ambulance. Keep the person relaxed.

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