First we took Kathy to Chinese Garden, which is only about a 15-minute walk from where we live, and a nice, tame introduction to Singapore wildlife. Usually it's just birds, some lizards, turtles, and fish. That day as we were walking in, we were surprised to see a molted snakeskin right beside the path! Although Chinese Garden seems like a fine habitat for snakes, we've never actually seen any there, so this was neat.
We also found this acrobatic little plantain squirrel, munching on a morning snack. Plantain squirrels are also known as red-bellied squirrels (notice the rust-colored stomach), and they are adorable.
|YOU CAN'T HAVE THIS! IT'S MINE!|
We stopped awhile at a shady little pond where a family was feeding bread to the fish and turtles (which you're actually not supposed to do, according to posted signs). There were huge catfish surfacing and sucking in huge chunks of soggy bread, along with big gulps of water. The catfish were intermingling with lots of smaller fish and the inevitable red-eared sliders, one of Singapore's most successful invasive species. Swimming around with all the others was a freakishly deformed turtle that looked like someone had flipped the edges of his shell inside out.
|We named him Invertle.|
The garden is a great place for birdwatching, and we saw more than a few that day- sunbirds, the usual mynas and sparrows, and even a few
|Bittern, looking for some lunch|
|Not a fish's best friend|
We moved on to go check out the pagodas. On our way there, we got a big surprise. A snake! The first one we've ever seen in Chinese Garden! And it was a paradise gliding snake (a.k.a. paradise tree snake)! I'd seen one in Thailand, but although I knew they're also native to Singapore, I've never seen one here. The paradise gliding snake I saw in Thailand was greenish yellow and black, while this one was red and black. The Singapore one was also a lot thinner than the one I saw in Thailand. It also had eyes that were really large in proportion to its head (a common trait in young animals), making me wonder if it might be a juvenile. It was pretty exciting!
|At first I thought it was a coil of electrical wire!|
The snake was really active, so we hung around a while and watched it. When I first spotted it, it was coiled up on a pipe jutting out from a building. As we observed it, it began slithering into another position, with the front part of its body sticking far into the air. Then it leaped off of the pipe and into the tree! It was pretty awesome to see the little guy in action, although it would have been especially exciting to see it glide. Paradise tree snakes can flatten their ventrum and launch themselves into their air and glide (kind of like colugos).
The day's wildlife was nicely rounded out by this cocky, photogenic changeable lizard.
|King of the castle|
Of course, most people go to Chinese Garden not for the wildlife, but for the idyllic scenery, and we enjoyed that too. Unfortunately the bonsai garden, which is my favorite part of Chinese/Japanese Gardens, was closed for maintenance, but there was still plenty to see.
|Peaceful garden stream|
|Intimidating mythical creature|
|Kathy and me in front of the pagoda|
After tromping all around Chinese Garden, our day had only just begun! We caught a cab and headed over to Bukit Timah for the Monkey Walk that I was leading...but that's a post for another day!