There were bats and rats and elephants… but I never did find no unicorn. (Modified lyrics from The Irish Rovers)
Creatures are cool. You already know I like bats, and you might recall that I like cats (especially the big ones). But I actually find almost every kind of creature pretty fascinating. Here is a sampling of the fauna we ran into while we were in Bali.
We’ll start with the dainty and pretty. Butterflies of all colors and varieties were as plentiful as the tropical flowers. Bali is very near the equator, so there is no change in seasons. It’s butterfly weather all year long. Click any of the photos to see them larger.
Of course butterflies are always moving, and they are smallish and hard to get near, so I only got a couple photos of the bazillions that fluttered across my path.
I found a dead cicada and he was really neat to study – two pockets on his underbelly amplify the buzzing sound that fills the trees in the mid-day heat. He is about 3 inches long.
A dead giant caterpillar. He’s all squished up, but stretched out he’s about 4-5 inches long when stretched out. He’s about 2 by 2.5 inches here. The red spot is a false eye and his head is actually at the other end. With a caterpillar this large, I really wanted to see what kind of butterfly or moth he turned into, alas, only 12 days in Bali…
A stone carving of a Komodo dragon. He was larger than life size. They have a few Komodo dragons on Bali, since the island of their source in only two islands to the east, but we only ran across this variety.
One of our frequent room guests. This is the spiny tailed house gecko, which isn’t always spiny-tailed, but is almost always in your house. They were all this color, except the larger ones, which were a different variety (below) which are Tokay geckos. They tick and squeak! It was so neat to be sitting at dinner and hear them on the wall behind you before you saw them. Tokay geckos are about 12 to 15 inches long.
A skink. I could spend all day trying to identify these guys, but I think this might be a Many-lined Sun Skink
. We used to have skinks and newts in terrariums when I was a kid, so it was so fun to see these guys in the wild.
I called these guys rainbow lizards. They have colored lines that run from head to tail and each line turns from blue to red, in the color of the rainbow as it goes. They were everywhere all over the villa grounds in the mornings and ran for cover at the first sight of movement, so they were hard to catch. This one is about 4 inches long, sitting on a statue.
Snakes. Thanks to those of you who didn’t quiver and wiggle when you saw this. There is far too much snake fear in the world. They are cool animals. On the right is a Sunbeam snake – he gets to 5 feet long, and on the left is a gold phase reticulated python. Oh, and my kids.
This was one of my more exciting finds. We were driving through a larger village just after a rain storm. The drainage ditches were full of water and the sidewalks and curbs had plenty of puddles, too. We rounded a corner and went past a water monitor. It’s a lizard. This one was about 4-5 feet long, but that’s me judging from only seeing his head and arms hanging out of the rain gutter. He was draped onto the sidewalk, his head sticking up, watching traffic, while his lower half got a bath, and people walked by not noticing him. HOW can you not notice a giant lizard on your sidewalk?! I didn’t get a photo of that particular one, but Chris got this photo of a much smaller one in the Monkey Forest.
The Malayan Water Monitor.
And speaking of Monkey Forest…
And of course there is a lot of animal personification in the Balinese art and Hindu stories. Please meet Hear, See and Speak…
And this is one of the Balinese Hindu characters who obviously enjoyed fraternizing with serpents…
And of course Bali is a wonderfully romantic place for any beast.
It was almost dawn when I found this adoring pair.
They were friendly toads. I didn’t get a photo of the frogs, but their songs entertained us every evening and then changed once the sun came up.
The kids found hermit crabs and made them a home on the beach. Of course my son had to name them: Hermes the hermit crab, and his buddy Bacchus, who appeared drunk for all the wobbling and falling he did. Great fun!
Don’t cringe, these guys are good, too. There are giant hornets in Bali. Who do you think keeps those guys under control? This garden spider is about 5 inches from tip of toe to toe diagonally – not too large. The next one however…
This is a typical Bali garden spider – body length about 4 inches, full length, closer to 10 inches and he had a web that was several feet across. They’re hard to miss. Here’s a photo of one on a person’s arm
to show 1) they’re docile, 2) they’re huge.
Yeah, there were a couple big ones in the bathrooms, too. We wrapped a towel around the light fixture one night because we couldn’t chase a big one (huntsman-variety spider that looked like this
) out before we gave up. Man, he was fast. In case you think I am being cruel or trying to chase you away from this blog, rest assured, I am not. I left the ants and cockroaches out entirely.
Bats! These were chirpy, medium sized fruit bats that entertained us at dusk and before dawn. We’d often find evidence that they had visited our patio overnight.
And I missed the birds entirely. Birds during the rainy season is not a fun photographic endeavor. They have some beauties though – myna birds and all manner of song birds which were unfortunately most often seen caged at roadside stands. But one of my last shots was this one, walking home from the crazy-busy beach in Kuta, we followed a city stream and I saw a night heron sitting on a lump of trash, fishing in the light of the shop signs. This image just might inspire a painting or something.
And we’ll end with something feathered and something fuzzy. And toothed. Both from our safari evening.
Feeding lionesses from inside our cage
I shall call him George.