Smooth Otters attacked Malayan Water Monitor

on 26th July 2019

“In the last week or so there has been postings and discussions around Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) particularly in the light of a Smooth Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) pup being dragged away LINK, the loss of the lesser whistling ducklings LINK and even a remark on encounters scoring by John Lynn – “Otters 1 Lizard 0”.

“I do follow otters including the Ulu Pandan family LINK. And I have seen and documented many such encounters between otters and monitor lizards across Singapore. And I thought I should share a recent video taken last month.

Video grab.

“Otters are extremely protective of their family members particularly the pups. This video captures the situation when a Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) whips its tail to fend off and hit an otter pup. The response from the family was swift, spontaneous and astounding – all this despite the lizard being a natural predator and possessing dangerous claws and a lethal tail.

“A cautionary note: The video below contains graphic scenes with the adult otters inflicting visible and punitive injuries on the lizard.

“Otters are wild animals – their behaviour even in an urban environment follows similar instincts. And it is these instincts that is driving NParks/PUB to install cautionary signboards to advise users of the parks/reservoirs on what to do when encountering otters. The video reinforces the significance of these advisory signboards (Thank you NParks/PUB). But more importantly, it also shows that monitor lizards aren’t always the indomitable animals that they are usually labelled and perhaps they do need some empathy too just like the otters or other wild animals.

“I am a birder and otterer and I sense that I am an outlier amongst the birding/ottering community by articulating a balance reporting on the monitor lizards that have chosen to make Singapore their home.

“Hopefully the video injects a sense of perspective – sometimes showing candid and open behaviour/observations of wild animals in our urban environment will facilitate better understanding. It isn’t about taking sides or keeping scores. They are what they are.

“Thank you *BICA for the opportunity to share this video.”

Munch Lmc with John Lynn
16th July 2019

*BICA = Birds, Insects N Creatures of Asia – Facebook

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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