Friday, September 14, 2012

Wild Week Day Three: Wildlife, Up Close and Personal

Elephants just might be number one on our list of favorite wildlife of Thailand.  You can read my post about them here.

Welcome to Wild Week Day Three: Wildlife, Up Close and Personal!  If you missed Day One or Day Two, click here and here to read those posts.  I blogged about food here in Thailand and there is probably something on the menu that would make you look twice!

But, today, we will take a look at the wildlife of Thailand.  I've never seen a tiger walk down my neighborhood street, or a Burmese python crawl into my kitchen...but we've had plenty of run-ins with the wild fauna of Thailand.  

Amphibians and Reptiles: 

We've killed cobras in our back (and front!) yard...I say we because I actually did help Treavor one time by holding (with a long pole!) a cobra captive up against a rock while he stabbed it with another sharp stick.  As it vainly struck at the air before it succumbed to death, I had this thought go through my head..."I cannot believe this is happening!"  You would too; especially if you're the type to (ahem) shriek at a cockroach in the bathroom.  Yes, it is true.  Cobra killers can be afraid of cockroaches, too.  I am just glad he wasn't in my bathroom.  I think we would have to move!

The cobra I helped to kill...(a little over 1 meter long)...

The cobra that Treavor killed all by himself!  This one was 1.5 meters long!  It put up quite a fight...

But we got the last laugh...or, maybe he did.  Anyway - we didn't have to worry about him crawling around the front lawn anymore!  

Last month at the Night Safari we got cozy with a native to our region: an albino Burmese python.

Want to read about more snake encounters while living here?  Read this post about the blind snake and this post about the one Jeshurun almost bit into.  Also, this website: is one of the best I have found for identifying everything that slithers around here.  If you're interested, click the link above! 

Other than snakes, we see salamanders, Tokay geckos, house geckos, and forest lizards daily...

Took this picture of a forest lizard three years ago while on vacation.  Last year, we caught a few and kept them as pets!

In our last home in the South, we had a few Tokay geckos living with us.  They are huge (can grow over a foot long) and since dangerous centipedes and scorpions are a part of their diets, I almost didn't mind them hanging around.  Once, I opened the kitchen door to find one searching for dinner, and several times, we saw them poking around the carport or making a racket in the ceiling.  One day while eating lunch, we heard what sounded like two cats duking it out in the ceiling above us.  Treavor opened the ceiling tile to have a closer look and found one Tokay exercising his territorial rights on another Tokay gecko.  After he killed him, he started to have him for dinner.  At least he cleaned up after his own mess...

(Pardon the grainy photo!)  This Tokay gecko was hanging around our vacation spot a few years ago.  This was the first Tokay we ever saw.  Funny enough, his nightly call is so common to us now that it was Kyla's first animal sound!

There are tons of other amphibians and reptiles here worth mentioning, but I am trying to keep these posts as "real-life" friendly as possible; "real-life" as in, things we didn't go searching for in our ordinary lives...but still happened upon us in a wild way.  One of the most common animals we have run into here are toads and frogs.  Our boys would capture them and play/observe/near-terrorize them almost every day when we lived in Krabi province in the South.  In our current suburban-y type neighborhood, Jeshurun misses seeing frogs around as often as we did before in the jungle.  I will never forget this cute tree frog that was hanging on my laundry one day:

Tree frogs are the cutest!

If you are interested in reading my post about the monitor lizard for my neighbor's dinner, click here!


Why do I have less pictures of mammals in my photo collection?  Beats me!  I think because I have a couple of crazy boys, I tend to get more interested in what they are; primarily, critters.  In a tireless search for mammals, I only came up with a few...some elephant pictures (like the one at the very top) and these below:

Run feeding the monkeys (three years ago!) in Southern Thailand

Near our first home, there was a coastal town that had a mountain that monkeys would congregate to.  The city even built a "play area" just for the monkeys to enjoy.  Local vendors set up shop with snacks for tourists and for the monkeys (for a fee!)...and we stopped there often to feed the monkeys and watch them play.  

The monkeys were so used to getting a free handout of popcorn, peanuts and fruit, that they would tug on our pants, like this guy, asking for more.  Hilarious.

Cows are often seen dozing on the side of the road or in a field.  Most of the time, they are tied up to a pole that let's them only go so far (and be far enough away from oncoming traffic!).

I (almost) wish I have seen a tiger here that wasn't behind bars.  I recently read an article about how the number of wild tigers here is close to almost nothing (200-250 tigers in the wild, 1,300 raised in zoos or other care facilities).  Tigers are just so beautiful and intriguing.  But, as you would imagine, I am thankful to not have to look over my shoulder every time we walk past a rice field or take a hike out into the forest.  It would give new meaning to the phrase, "speak softly and carry a big stick."

Although there aren't many tigers running wild, this temple in Western Thailand takes care of tigers and is basically a tourist destination as well.  I don't know if I am brave enough to walk around with full-grown tigers...even if they are "tame."  What about you? 


I posted once here about some of the critters my sons like to play with (or, at least observe from a close distance)!  Along with those I mentioned (dragonflies, weevils, beetles, ants, spiders, etc.), we have had some fun times with creepy-crawlies.  Once, we caught a praying mantis the size of Jeshurun's forearm!  We fed it bug after bug, and each time it struck its prey, it felt like we were watching National Geographic!  Millipedes constantly find their way in our homes, and ants are almost everywhere to be found.  I even had to put my bottle of Tums in the ant-safe food cupboard because they were trying to eat the whole bottle!  Maybe they had a bad case of heartburn?

We find snails this big (and bigger!) in our yard every day.  I throw them in the street when the kids aren't looking.  They eat my plants!  

A pretty caterpillar we found one day on a walk...

Lyssa Zampa moth - the size of my hand!

Another pretty moth that hung out on my plants one day.

Just this week, Run captured this metallic wood boring beetle to observe.  Thai artisans use their iridescent wings to make jewelry and decorate all sorts of art.  Beautiful!

There's simply too many wild things living here in Thailand to devote a whole post to all of them.  To experience some more, why don't you just come for a visit?

What's the wildest thing you've seen out in the wild lately?  (Even if your "wild" space is just your backyard.)  Please, give me some great stories to share with my kids!  What is normal to you might not be normal to them...feel free to share in the comments below: 

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