Thailand wildlife – 10 things to see in your garden

There are times when Thailand can seem like a paradise of exotic wildlife, but there are also plenty of times – in any oil palm or rubber plantation – when it seems like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s fun to know the names of some of the birds and beasts you might see in your garden every day.

Starting with an easy 10… Let’s look at four birds.

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger
The common myna (Acridotheres tristis)

Thailand’s most interesting bird – is the common myna. You can, and will, see these common mynas every day. They are noisy, sociable, active and very visible.

But wait! Isn’t that the bird formerly known as those shitty birds? Yes, it is, but that’s just because you haven’t been looking at it properly.

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Mynas are very intelligent, perhaps the most intelligent of birds. They are always looking for a problem to solve, or another myna to talk to. If you watch a flock of mynas for a few minutes, you’ll find a lot of soap operas going on.

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger
The brahminy kite (Haliastur Indus)

Known as the red-backed sea eagle in Australia, you can see brahminy kite anywhere in Thailand near the coast. They love trash and you can easily find them at the town dump. These are not white-bellied sea eagles, which are huge, spectacular birds in comparison.

You probably won’t find a brahminy kite perching on your shed any time soon, but if you look up, one will soar over any minute.

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger
Male brown-throated sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

Sunbirds are not hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are completely unrelated and several thousand kilometres away. They certainly don’t live in Asia.

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger
Male olive-backed sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis)

Two types are commonly found in gardens and parks: the brown-throated sunbird and the olive-back sunbird. The males are quite easy to tell apart, and the females are a lot more challenging. Such is life.

Two mammals – Squirrel versus tree shrew

Cute little animals are living in the trees all over Thailand.

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger
Squirrel on the left, tree shrew on the right,

Tree shrews are often mistaken for squirrels and it’s easy to see why. But there are several differences. Tree shrews have longer, more pointed snouts. Tree shrews mainly feed on insects and other small animals, while squirrels eat fruits, nuts, and seeds, but many are notorious nest raiders and eat quite a lot of baby birds.

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger

Both squirrels and tree shrews hunch on their hind legs and hold the food in their hands as they eat it.

One thing they share in common is that they’re both cute.

Two reptiles

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger
Golden tree snake (Chrysopelea ornata)

Golden tree snake is also known as the ornate flying snake, golden flying snake, gold and black tree snake and flying tree snake. It has too many Thai names to count.

Yes, they fly, but not often and probably not in your house, where you are quite likely to see them. They are completely harmless, and even quite friendly. There is no sane reason to drive them away.

The next time your cat kills one, just remind yourself that your useless snake killer has just eaten the best mouser in the district. If you don’t like mice, get a snake, not a cat.

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger
Many-lined sun skink (Eutropis multifasciata)

You have a number of many-lined sun skinks in your garden, and the first time you saw one, you perhaps thought it was a snake. You’ll see them basking in the sun but mostly they hide out in leaf litter.

That rustling noise you hear is probably a skink, not a coiling cobra. And the dead or dying lizard your cat brings home probably is too. Skinks help to get down garden pests like voracious giant snails, scorpions and centipedes. If you don’t want snails, get more skinks.

Two amphibians

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger
Common tree frog (Polypedates leucomystax)

The common tree frog spends most of its time jumping from leaf to leaf. They can jump incredibly far for such a small animal. I’ve seen one jump from the floor on one side of my double bed to the floor on the other. Then can often be seen taking enormous leaps over the road at night.

If they are not jumping (or stuck to your window pane) they are incredibly difficult to see. Look for them at night with a flashlight in any convenient bush. Find them by the glint in their eyes.

Thailand wildlife - 10 things to see in your garden | News by Thaiger

The natural habitat of the banded bullfrog appears to be my laundry basket and the drain under my shower. These guys blow themselves up like balloons when they think they are about to be eaten (or when you toss them out of the laundry).

And it’s the banded bullfrog who comes out after the rain and makes a noise like robotic cows coming home.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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