Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Fat Biawak!

Once again, I now publicly declare myself as a typical  city person. It is not about me not having to see a biawak (Monitor lizard) in my life before. It was about that biawak on that same tree for more than twenty four hours in this such awkward position...

This photo was taken at night, low flash

...until I pressed the panic button ... Silly me. Yes, you will agree with me after reading this... click on please

On this day (Day 1) at 8:00am: 
A tourist staying in a resort took a picture of this biawak hanging in the mid-section of a tree.

Day 1 at 7:00pm:
I was informed by the tourist about this biawak and he told me that the biawak was on the same tree since morning. He was asking about the awkward foreleg. It was motionless. 

Day 1 at 9:15pm:
The biawak was still on that same tree. Two other tourists joined me watching it in the dark. It moved! Yippee! It was moving its head away from my strong torchlight which was shining towards it. Great! it was still alive.

My action taken: 
Informed the manager of the resort to get help from the Wildlife Department.

Day 2 at 11:30am:
Followed up with the manager with a call if the Wildlife Department was contacted. Yes, it was contacted and the Wildlife people suggested to use a long stick to push the biawak off the tree. No one knows what happened next.

Day 3 at 10:00am:
I returned to the resort to check the tree if the biawak was still there. Another manager informed me that the tourists complained to the big boss of the resort that the biawak was still left hanging on the tree on Day 2. The staff went to the tree, had a look and reported that the biawak was happily sitting there. Well, this biawak was not on the tree now and no one knew what happened to it.

Today (Day 3) at 1:30pm:
Over our plates of char koay teow, I asked my pet expert friend, Jeff, if it is normal for a biawak to stay up on a tree for more than twenty four hours. To my surprise, he said "Yes".

And then I saw this coming from Jeff. It was a huge roaring laugh smacked on my face. 

Ok! OK! I have never seen a biawak stayed up on a tree for so long. Unlike Jeff, he has seen biawak doing such in his kampung house. From Jeff's observation, a biawak in his garden would stayed up on the same spot for days, usually to wait for prey, to hide away from predator or being lazy after having a large meal. Then he said, "No wonder my kittens went missing".

I bet the resort staff would laugh at me now... gee... I never said that I am a wildlife expert or a biologist anyway.

Finally, Jeff admitted that a long time ago he had the similar thoughts like me when he saw a biawak in such condition. He was proven by a vet that the biawak he encountered was not dead. The vet set up a video camera and it recorded the biawak moved away after four days.

Jeff corrected me by explaining the actual position of a biawak stuck on a tree. If the biawak's body is on the tree with its head and all the limbs hanging in the air, that would mean the biawak is STUCK for real! For this case as shown on my pictures, this fella was just hanging out.

An unexpected wildlife education for me over a plate of char koay teow. Not bad, huh? Hey, Jeff, I googled for facts related to this experience as you suggested. I cannot find any. Perhaps you can google this for me then.

Gee... I have to spend more time in the "kampung" life now and Damn! I was tricked by a biawak.

Biawak curry, anyone? 

Just kidding-la.

Before I left the resort, I greeted my little darling here, for she will never trick me by hanging out on a tree like this.
A lovely female Colugo 

One more last note, Jeff. Now you know a Colugo is a mammal. We are even...muahaha! But seriously, thank you for the free education, Jeff!


  1. Helllo!!!!

    Long time no see!
    how are you doing? :-)

    Am back from 3 months in New Zealand, and of course, suitably impressed with the extent of conservation in their country. brought back a copy of their community based conservation society "Forest and Bird" for your perusal too!

    Regarding the biawak, I had a baby biawak (ok, 30 cm will not appear small to people who freaks out at house lizards) climb up the 2nd floor of my house through the drain pipe!

    Mommy dearest (who shattered a thermos flask, throwing it out of her hand and screamed when she saw a house lizard, once) went nuts..

    The episode was resolved amicably when I covered it using a fish net and could then safely grab it and release it outside, while admiring its striking skin pattern, whc was much much prettier than the adult, :p

    I even managed to give it a few strokes on the head before it scampered off :-)

    Colugo???!!!! Amazing!!! The last time I read about this name was in a 1987 book, Animal encyclopedia published by Brimax Books..., which I now have in hand- is it because everyone else calls it a flying lemur?

    hope to see it one day, preferably in flight! The difference between it and flying squirrels is that their flying membrane stretches all the way to the tail?

    oh the book says here that the phillipine counterpart glides up to 135m :-)

  2. hahaha.... lol!

    that is sure 1 good explanation! :-)

    i m still laughing my ass out reading it, but u sure hv a great education on this matter. so, i assume by now u know that all or rather most cold blooded animals will stay in that position for hours or days.

    i will try my best to search for the info u needed.


  3. Hi Raoul,
    Wow! Welcome back to my blog. and also to KL..?

    New Zealand is amazing, isn't it? I spend almost six months there. They are role models in respecting their land and looking well after their natural environment. Kiwis understand that their natural environment is the one that brings revenue to their country and they must do their every bit to look after it.

    Sadly, unlike our country. malaysia has got plentiful of natural resources until we exploit and taking what we have for granted. shame on our gomen.

    Yup, a colugo's skin membrane goes all the way to its tail. According to Norman Lim who wrote a book known as Colugo, he recorded our Malayan Colugo could glide 136m with a loss of height of 12m.

    So nice to hear from you again, Raoul.

  4. Btw, Raoul. I love every bits of NZ. Wish I can work and live there forever.

  5. Hey Jeff,
    Are you laughing still? Have you got the info I needed or not?

    Btw, thanks for laughing at my silliness. I don't feel that silly after that.

  6. Wow! Seems like I'm not the only one who have seen this puzzling phenomenon!

    I recalled seeing a monitor lizard lying some 10 metres up a steep coconut tree back in 2009 during a dive trip out in Pulau Perhentian.

    That time, I was wondering if it somehow got stuck after basking the whole day under the warm sun. It was dusk when I saw it.

    The next day, I was even more surprised to see it had not moved an inch over the night! I began to think it was dead all along.

    On the third day though, the lizard disappeared! I surveyed the base of the tree but fond no trace of a carcass or any other signs! It was a real mystery...till now.

    Thanks for rekindling my curiosity in this strange behaviour of the biawak! :)

  7. Hi!
    Oh, I hail from Muar, was in KL for 5 years for studies :-)

    Yup, NZ was absolutely amazing.
    6 months? that's twice my time, Though I have a feeling you feel that it isn't enough! ;-)

    you know, this phenomenon of respecting mother nature and caring for it... we must learn where the spark came from,

    From what I heard, not so long ago, the streets of taiwan were just like any Chinese alley, clogged drains with rubbish strewn around.. Recycling was non-existent

    But just within the few recent decades, there was this sudden enlightenment that they can afford to turn a blind eye no longer, and suddenly there was this clean movement, recycling movement, nature appreciation movement... turning taiwan to what we see today. I've yet to go there, but witness accounts abound..

    whereas, New Zealand has the Department of Conservation, which really made an impact.. But their own citizens, those you read on Forest and Bird, are equally heroic, exuding passion for nature and really going the distance for what they believe in.

    Can Malaysia find that spark? I really do hope so. We have Perhilitan... but... sigh.

    I love NZ too, The people, the greenery, the wildlife, -Especially the Fantail, is it not the most cheerful, friendly and happy go lucky bird you can find?-, the low crime rate...

    But each moment spent there, strengthens my resolve to better our lovely little malaysia.

    My Parents have been urging for my migration to Aus/NZ/ Sing/ Anywhere-but-here..

    the grass is always greener on the other side,
    But home is where my heart is :-)

    Let's work together and improve Malaysia!!! (=^.^=)

    ps.- I'm currently unemployed till October, so I may make it to Langkawi, If I do, I'll give you a holler and join your mangrove planting, nature sighteeing yeah!

    PPS!- Saw you have a Label "Panganakan dii"!
    I've stayed there toooo! that was in April 2010, I think there were just open for a year or so. I feel its an amazing place, and If I do get to open my homestay sometime in the future, its one of my own role-models!

  8. Hi JK,
    Give me a BIG five! for having the same thoughts like I had.. LOL!

    Thank you so much for your time in sending the pdf on varanidae basking in the sun. Very interesting observation. I have seen biawaks clinging on coconut trees as shown on your pictures you sent. However, they didn't stay as long as more than 24hours though.

  9. Hi Raoul,
    In short, as long as our existing government is still around, Malaysia (majority) will never find the spark. It probably takes a sudden phenomenon like tourists stopped coming here for our gomen has exploited the natural resources. ..sigh... i seem to give up on these two gomen bodies whom we trusted them to do the work ie Perhilitan (Wildlife) and Perhutanan(Forestry). They lack the passion in their line of duty, especially those sitting in top positions. The "kuli" may have the passion but very soon they gave up because these top people failed in delivering their promise.

    Email me when you really coming over to Langkawi. Take you see the Great Hornbills!


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