Common Fruit Bats (Cynopterus brachyotis) are usually found during the day roosting in caves, on the under-surface of flyovers, under the eaves of houses, on branches of trees, etc. With the coming of dusk they fly off in search of food. Most of the time they bring their food to eat while hanging down from their roost. They thus dirty the ground below with their droppings and food remnants. And if you want to photograph bats, you need to visit their roosting sites or their feeding areas after dusk.
Dr. Francis Seow-Cohen had a different idea. He managed to lure bats to his garden so that he could photograph them in comfort. This he did in May 2020. He stuck a partially peeled banana at a leaf base of a young palm. He kept vigil after dusk with his camera at the ready. At around 7pm, not one but two bats flew in to get at the banana. Unable to bring the banana back to their roost, the two bats flew around, taking turns to cling onto the banana to take bites. The bats left only when the banana was totally eaten.
Common Fruit Bats roosting under the roof of a porch HERE and taking nectar from banana flowers HERE.
Video of a very active snake in locomotion. Video courtesy of Dr Seow-Choen.
There are estimated to be more than 5,000 species of snakes in the world. About two third of these living snakes belong to the Family Colubridae. They are a highly diverse group of individuals.
Around our region, peninsular Malaysia is said to have at least 141 snake species on land and in the water. Of these only 16 species of land snake and all 21 species of water snake are significantly venomous.
Dogtooth Cat snake (DTC) is mildly venomous. Its venom usually only cause slight pain and swelling to human when bitten, but is lethal to small birds. It is one of the four cat snake species (Boiga) found in Singapore. The others include the Gold-ringed Cat snake (Boiga melanota) and Jasper cat snake (Boiga jaspidea). The fourth species is the white-spotted cat snake (Boiga drapiezii) that was not seen for a long time but rediscovered in 2009 by Leong T.M., Lim K.K. and Baker N.
DTC got its name because like the cat, its big eye responds with a vertically elliptic pupil in strong light. This elliptic pupil characteristic points to a nocturnal predatory pattern. It has a rounded snout with relatively large front teeth in both upper and lower jaws. Two of these teeth are again larger than the others, giving the impression of being fangs. The real fangs are fixed fangs situated in the rear of the mouth. The large front teeth and big false front fangs (like dog’s canines) may have resulted in its dogtooth name.
DTC is endemic to Asia. It can grow up to 2.8m in length but it looks slender and thin. This is due to the fact that it is compressed side to side (laterally), giving it a prominent vertebra ridge.
Dorsally, it is reddish-brown/dark-brown in color with irregular black bands running transversely. In some you may see additional tan/yellow parallel cross bands. A few may have extra black melanin pigments, resulting in a black looking snake. However they still have the distinctive thick dark streak behind each eye. Ventrally, its belly varies from whitish to light brown.
DTC has a triangular head, much wider than its neck. This can be confused with the head of a viper. It is usually nocturnal and arboreal. It feeds on birds, their eggs, lizards, bats, frogs and rodents. It is oviparous, lays 6-12 eggs in one clutch. The young are independent at hatching and do not receive any maternal care.
DTC are usually found in lowland forest, especially at its edges. It tends to shy away from human habitations but are attracted to chickens, eggs and birds in cages. So chicken keepers beware!
Rats/mice are pests of economic and medical importance. They are important partly because of their very high potential reproductive rate. This can be seen in the recent mice explosion in the rural communities in New South Wales, Australian. Mice can be seen everywhere on the farms, tons and tons of them. Rodents eat up and contaminate the farm produce. Singapore may not have many farms but we have plenty of warehouses for storing our imported food. Hence, rodent population control is of top priority. Many snakes eat rats. There are stories of warehouse owners keeping pythons to keep rat populations down. Rodents are also carriers of diseases like leptospirosis, salmonellosis, scrub typhus, murine typhus and other helminthic sickness.
At least 15 species of local burrowing snakes (Leptotyphlopidae also known as blind snakes) are ecologically important as they help us by eating up termites.
Thus we should leave harmless snakes alone. In fact, more than two thirds of the species in the region are harmless.
Article by Wong Kais
Photos and Video Courtesy of
Dr Francis Seow-Choen
Honorary Research Associate, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah, Malaysia
Honorary Research Affiliate, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, Singapore
Honorary Research Associate, National Biodiversity Centre, National Parks Board, Singapore
Nature in Singapore, 2, 487 – 493
A guide to THE AMPHIBIANS & REPTILES of Singapore by Kelvin KP Lim and Francis LK Lim
I observed a male Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) calling out loudly post mating. Wells (1999) states that the male sings as they sit side by side and describes the song in detail. This post copulation song was intermittent but extended for 3-4 minutes, with 28 notes per minute that were spaced out evenly; each lasting ~0.5 seconds. I wonder if it was a call to advertise territory post mating?
A single Plain Flowerpecker (Dicaeum concolor [minullum] borneanum) was seen feeding on the fruits of the Rusty-leaf Mistletoe (Scurrula ferruginea).
Food of items I have observed Plain Flowerpeckers feeding on:
1. Scurrula ferruginea (Rusty-leaf Mistletoe) – native plant, fruit and nectar feeding
2. Melastoma malabathricum (Straits rhododendron) – native plant, fruit feeding
3. Other unidentified Mistletoe
4. Bridelia tomentosa fruit.
Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
22nd February 2021
Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Primary forest
Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone
Sexing of Zebra Doves (Geopelia striata) is best identified by courtship behaviour with male bowing and displaying. When not mating physical sex differences are subtle and not necessarily consistent. Calls between sexes also do not appear to be different.
Gibbs, Barnes and Cox (2001) suggest that in females the barring in the breast is more extensive (extends further onto the breast) and the pinkish centre to breast more restricted in extent.
Having observed this pair of mating I was sure of the sex. The composite image (identical post image processing) shows the male on the left and female on the right. The differences are subtle.
Gibbs, D., Barnes, E. and Cox, J. (2001). Pigeons and doves: a guide to the pigeons and doves of the world. Pica Press, Robertsbridge.
Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
21st May 2020
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban environment
Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR IF-ED
The changeable hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus formerly Spizaetus cirrhatus) is also known as Indian crested hawk-eagle. There are varying colour forms in different regions of the world. Some forms are crested and yet others are not crested. The taxonomy is still in flux as genetic studies have not been able to elucidate the relationship between many of the species. There are also differences in size in different regions. The diet comprises other birds, reptiles and small mammals.
The paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi) is also known as the paradise flying snake as the snake is able to glide in the trees. The snake can grow up to 1 m in length. Its venomous fangs are located at the back of its mouth. It is arboreal and hunts in the day. Small vertebrates make up most of its diet.
Ghim Pin Tan was at Pasir Ris Park on 11 September 2021 and documented a crestless, dark morph dueling a paradise tree snake. The snake aimed for the bird’s the eye and thus escaped the bird’s great talons. Snake got to live another day.
Shahrul Kamal observed a changeable hawk-eagle way back in June 2021. Read Shahrul’s account of the bird’s activities that day.
Today I had the chance to shoot the CHE in good light after a 3 week wait. It perched near the shelter at Car Park B for approximately 15-25 mins and gave up after crows started to harass the poor CHE who is trying to have some rest.
It was ‘harassed’ by a fly (mynah dont quite bother) until it flew towards the pond with the crows in hot pursuit!
CHE must apply for freehold license at Pasir Ris Park tree of its choice. Crows or hornbills got no say.
13 June 2021, around 11:35 am.
*My great thanks to bro Yap Desmond who saw it flying across the Sungai fire fire** (Api Api River in Pasir Ris Park)
A guide to The Amphibians and Reptiles of Singapore by Kelvin KP Lim and Francis LK Lim (published by Science Centre 1992)
I spotted a pair of Yellow-breasted Warblers (Seicercus montis davisoni) nesting in the montane forest at Cameron Highlands in Pahang, Malaysia.
I did not approach the nest or attempt to look at it. I stayed about 5-6 meters away. I was watching birds along a road and this pair was actively feeding young and generally comfortable with my presence; entering and exiting the nest while I was nearby.
The nest was located 2.5-3 meters on the slope/bank under the roots of over-hanging trees and bushes; the nest itself was not visible (see composite image above).
Both partners were actively bringing prey. They collected prey from 5-10 meters around the nest site and items I could identify were caterpillars, spiders and Crane Flies (Tipulidae) – see above. Much of the prey was gleaned from the under surface of leaves and ferns. After having observed numerous episodes, on this occasion and previous visits, I am now convinced that fluttering to obtain prey under foliage is a major hunting technique. They have very high-pitched calls but my recordings were poor (and old age hearing loss failed me).
Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
4th March 2019
Location: 1,700m ASL, Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia
Habitat: Primary montane forest
Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone