Malayan Water Monitor scavenging a decomposing macaque

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Jkai Chan’s images of a Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) having a meal of a rotting mammal was documented at Pandan River. His images, posted in Facebook BICA (Bird, Insects n Creatures of Asia), drew much discussion among members.

Image #1.

Members debated whether the carcass could be that of a dog, otter, monitor lizard, pangolin or monkey.

Twelve agreed that the carcass could be that of a monkey. “Very likely a monkey” wrote Tuck Meng Choong, “look at that long tail… a macaque, maybe.” Benedict Yeap and Tony Chung similarly thought it could be a monkey. Molossian Petfeed went a step further, suggesting it looked like a leaf monkey. Based on the long tail, Glenda Heng concluded that it was a Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis).

Michael Patrick Marklevitz believed it to be a primate because “Tail looks slender for otter and limbs too long in proportion to body… Proportions of the hand more primate like and note what appears to be a flat nail on the thumb versus a claw on an otter. No webbing.”

Image #2.

Jkai’s images were sent to Dr Leong Tzi Ming, who is one of the contributors to the book on Wild animals of Singapore (Baker & Lim, 2008). Tzi Meng’s reply is given below:

“I believe it’s a decomposing adult macaque. First image shows the lizard biting the monkey’s long tail. Second image shows the cavernous rib cage very clearly. The second and third images show the monkey’s fingers of the right hand. Look carefully and you can see the thumbnail.

Image #3.

“I have so much respect for these monitor lizards, who have one of the dirtiest jobs in the ecosystem.

“It’s truly amazing how they can bear with the stench, and swallow the foul flesh of decaying animals.

“They must have a remarkable digestive and immune system in order to subsist on this type of diet.

“Long live the Varanus!”

Jkai Chan (images) & Dr Leong Tzi Ming et al. (comments)
3rd December 2019

Baker, N. & K. Lim (eds.). 2008. Wild animals of Singapore: A photographic guide to mammals, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fishes. Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.


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