Aviculturist Lee Chiu San was impressed with the video documented by Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS showing a Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) struggling with an Asian Swamp Eel (Monopterus albus), also called the Swamp or Rice Eel, before finally swallowing it LINK. The Purple Heron stalked the eel for more than 20 minutes before snatching it on the head. It then took another 4 minutes thrashing it on the ground, spearing it repeatedly before killing it. The eel was then washed and swallowed.
According to Chiu San, “Such swamp eel can be seen in a field near where I live, which has a few small streams flowing through it. As for the eel, I can confirm that it does have teeth, and does not hesitate to use them. In the days when … there were still water hyacinth ponds in Singapore, because it makes for rather good eating, I used to fish for this type of eel using baited lines staked out overnight. If the catch was plentiful, eels not to be cooked right away would be stored in a large tub. A neighbour’s son put his hand into the tub to play with the eels. One of them gashed his thumb so badly that it had to be stitched.”
Lee Chiu San
15th January 2018
Just as a heads up, Monopterus albus is the old name. The species complex has recently been split, and the species found in this part of the world is known as Monopterus javanensis now.