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Australia Snakes Species Profiles

Inland Taipan – The Most Venomous Snake in the World

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Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Green Cascade Frog – Hong Kong Wildlife | 大綠蛙 – 香港野生動物

The Green cascade frog, also known as Chloronate huia frog or Copper-cheeked frog, is a species of true frog (family Ranidae). As a matter of fact, many frog-like amphibians in Hong Kong are not true frogs.

Being quite large in size, bright green all over the back, and can make bigger jumps than most other local frogs, this is a frog you don’t easily misidentify when you come across one. I often find them in the same habitats with the very common Whipping frogs, Banded bullfrogs, Black-spined toads, and Hong Kong newts.

This species is also found in other parts of China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and possibly Bangladesh and Nepal.

Sorry for poor quality – it’s from a video I was recording the jump

Odorrana chloronota (Günther, 1875)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Odorrana
Species: chloronota

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大綠蛙廣泛分布於香港的山溪

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Blind Snake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 盲蛇 – 香港野生動物

This 4-inch noodle I found in my backyard is a fully-grown blind snake — one of the smallest snakes in the world.

Eyesight is never an important sense of snakes. But most snakes do see and have exposed, visible eyeballs. However, as the name suggests, blind snakes are completely blind. The eyes can’t form images, but can still register light intensity, and are barely discernible as tiny dots under head translucent scales. In some blind snakes, you even can’t see the dots, like this one in my picture.

Pretty common but you don’t often see them because they are totally fossorial animals living underground. That’s why being blind won’t bother them at all.

There are 3 blind snakes in Hong Kong:

  1. Brahminy blind snake or locally called Common blind snake (Indotyphlops braminus) is native to most of Asia and Africa. It has been introduced to Australia and throughout most of the Americas.
    鉤盲蛇
  2. White-headed blind snake (Indotyphlops albiceps) is a less common species of blind snake.
    白頭鈎盲蛇
  3. Hong Kong blind snake or Lazell’s blind snake (Indotyphlops lazelli) is a little-known species endemic to Hong Kong, first described in 2004.
    香港盲蛇

Indotyphlops (Ramphotyphlops) braminus (Daudin, 1803)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Typhlopidae
Genus: Indotyphlops
Species: braminus

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Asia Snakes Species Profiles

Sunda Island Pit Viper (Trimeresurus insularis)

The Komodo dragon is not the only animal in Komodo Island that makes me visit over and over again. This snake has always been the second sought-after species in my previous trips to Komodo Island.

The Sunda Island pitviper (a.k.a. Lesser Sunda Island pit viper, White-lipped island pit viper, or Blue insularis viper) is native to Komodo and some nearby Indonesian islands such as Bali, Flores, Lombok, Padar, Rinca, eastern Java, Adonara, Alor, Romang, Roti, Sumba, Sumbawa, Wetar, and also Timor of East Timor.

Although mostly turquoise or blue, some snakes of this species can be bright green or bright yellow. Interestingly, some blue individuals are born green and turn into blue in a year or two. No doubt, this species has the most outstanding colors of all 50 species of Asian pit vipers (Trimeresurus) while 90% of the species in the genus are green such as the Bamboo pit viper. A few species are very dark to almost black such as the Mangrove pit viper.

Trimeresurus insularis (Kramer, 1977)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: (Cryptelytrops) Trimeresurus
Species: insularis

Categories
Asia Snakes Species Profiles

Mangrove Pit Viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus)

Taking close-up photos of venomous snakes is always my kind of adrenaline booster. This one was even more exciting with me knowing the fact that there’s no antivenin specifically made for this snake. Bites are treated with polyvalent antivenin in SE Asian hospitals.

The Mangrove pit viper (a.k.a. Mangrove viper, Shore pit viper, or Purple-spotted pit viper) is a small venomous snake growing to 66-90 centimeters (26-35 in). It is native to Singapore, West Malaysia, Sumatra and Java of Indonesia, Thailand, India, Burma, and Bangladesh.

You don’t always have to be the brightest one to stand out from the crowd. Take a look at this dark horse.

It may look black to the untrained eye. But if you look carefully it is a very dark purple hue, hence its Latin name purpureomaculatus. You may think that with such a dark color this must be a subtle snake trying to look just like most other snakes. But it is in fact so special being the darkest species in its genus (Asian pit vipers – Trimeresurus).

Being dark is rare, while all its cousins are bright.

Although few exceptional ones can be bright yellow or bright blue such as the Sunda Island pit viper, over 90% of species in this genus are bright green, including the Bamboo pit viper which is the most common species in the genus and was also described by British zoologist John Edward Gray. Even though it is more well-known than other Asian pit vipers nowadays, back then it was first known to science a good decade after the much more subtle-looking Mangrove pit viper was. The dark color didn’t help much from being discovered. This is the fifth species to be described (1832) in the entire genus of 50 species of Asian pit vipers.

There used to be 2 subspecies – this one (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus purpureomaculatus) and another one that is endemic to the Andaman Islands of India (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus andersoni) which is now separated and classified as a full species named Andaman pit viper (Trimeresurus andersonii) a.k.a. Nicobar mangrove pit viper or Anderson’s pitviper.

Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus (Gray, 1832)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: (Cryptelytrops) Trimeresurus
Species: purpureomaculatus

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Common Wolf Snake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 白環蛇 – 香港野生動物

Not only pet snakes can have designer morphs.

The Wolf Snake is native to a large range of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Individuals of the same species from different locations appear to be very different. Patterns can be variable from patches, collars to bands. Coloration also varies from black, brownish, grayish, olive, to yellowish, pearl white and iridescent. It’s a result of divergent evolution.

It’s similar to how pet snakes got all the non-normal patterns and colors (morphs) generations after generations.

Lycodon aulicus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Lycodon
Species: aulicus

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Asia HK Species Profiles Turtles

Big-headed Turtle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 大頭龜 – 香港野生動物

Days of rainstorm brought this little fella to the mountain stream behind my backyard.

Not an easy find — the Big-headed turtle is a lesser-known endangered species native to Hong Kong, China, and SE Asia.

It is nocturnal and lives in and around mountain streams with fast-running water. Not a slow turtle at all. It is fast and can climb vertically like a master rock climber.

Platysternon megacephalum (Gray, 1831)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Platysternidae
Genus: Platysternon
Species: megacephalum

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大頭龜, 鷹咀龜, 平胸龜, 鸚鵡龜

Categories
Asia HK Mammals Species Profiles

Hong Kong Monkeys | 香港獼猴 – 香港野生動物

There are around 1,800 wild monkeys in Hong Kong, in 30 social troops. None of them are native to Hong Kong. They were all introduced. There are 2 species – the Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta), Long-tailed Macaque or crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis), and their hybrids. Stable populations reside in country parks such as Kam Shan (Monkey Hill), Lion Rock, and Shing Mun.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Macaca (Lacépède, 1799)

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獼猴, 長尾獼猴, 恆河猴, 西藏短尾猴, 藏酋猴, 馬騮, 野猴

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Africa Americas Asia Australia Europe HK Mammals Species Profiles

Wild Boar – Hong Kong Wildlife | 野豬 – 香港野生動物

The Wild boars (Sus scrofa) is also known as wild swine, common wild pig, or simply wild pig.

Sus scrofa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Suidae
Genus: Sus
Species: scrofa

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野豬, 山豬

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Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Short-legged Horned Toad – Hong Kong Wildlife | 短腳角蟾 – 香港野生動物

If you will ask “What is a horned toad?”

  1. Most people will have zero ideas.
  2. Those who are into herpetology or herpetoculture will easily name the horned lizards (Phrynosoma sp) which are commonly known as horned toads, even though they are some North American lizards, not toads.
  3. Some may think of the much more well-known horned frogs from South America (Ceratophrys sp). Not toads either.
  4. Only very few people know about this one to be genuinely called horned toads.

But don’t be too serious. Common names of animals are rarely preciously accurate. That is why scientific names are to matter.

The Short-legged horned toad (Megophrys (Xenophrys) brachykolos) is also known as Peak spadefoot toad because it was first discovered in the Victoria Peak (locally known as The Peak), Hong Kong.

Its subtleness comes from its discreteness – It is a tiny little toad growing to less than 40-48 mm that burrows a lot and it is far from common. They are not easy to find at all!

Not to be confused with the common toad you can easily find, this species is pretty rare – Out of all 23 amphibian species of Hong Kong, there are only 3 endangered species – Hong Kong cascade frog (Amolops hongkongensis) 香港湍蛙, the most well-known Romer’s tree frog (Liuixalus romeri) 盧文氏樹蛙, and this toad.

Previously thought to be a subspecies of the Little horned toad (Megophrys minor). But molecular genetic evidence now supports its full species status. The 2 species are obviously different. The Little horned toad is absent in Hong Kong but much more common in southern China and Southeast Asia.

Not an endemic species – Other than Hong Kong, it can also be found in southern China and Vietnam. But it is hardly known outside Hong Kong. To be fair, it is even not known to most people in Hong Kong.

Megophrys brachykolos (Inger and Romer, 1961)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Megophryidae
Genus: Megophrys
Species: brachykolos

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短腳角蟾, 短肢角蟾

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Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Painted Chorus Frog – Hong Kong Wildlife | 粗皮姬蛙 – 香港野生動物

The Painted chorus frog (Microhyla butleri) has many other common names such as Butler’s narrow-mouthed toad, Butler’s pigmy frog, Butler’s rice frog, Butler’s ricefrog, noisy frog, or Tubercled pygmy frog.

Microhyla butleri (Boulenger, 1900)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Microhylidae
Genus: Microhyla
Species: butleri

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粗皮姬蛙, 巴氏小雨蛙

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Africa Americas Asia Australia Europe HK Invertebrates Species Profiles

Scarab Beetle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 金龜子 – 香港野生動物

Because of its glamorous metallic colors, these were the popular bugs Hong Kong kids used to spend their springs and summers finding them in the bush back in the 1970’s to 80’s.

There are over 30,000 species of scarabs in the world.

In Hong Kong, the more common scarabs include The green chafer beetles (Anomala cupripes and Anomala corpulenta)

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Coleoptera
Superfamily: Scarabaeoidea
Family: Scarabaeidae (Latreille, 1802)

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金龜子, 金龜

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Asia Birds HK Species Profiles

Red-whiskered Bulbul – Hong Kong Wildlife | 紅耳鵯 – 香港野生動物

Red-whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus), or also called Crested bulbul, is a passerine bird in Asia, a member of the bulbul family. It is a resident frugivore found mainly in tropical Asia.

In Hong Kong, it is more common than most of other bulbuls such as the Sooty-headed bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster).

Pycnonotus jocosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pycnonotidae
Genus: Pycnonotus
Species: jocosus

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紅耳鵯,又名紅頰鵯,俗名高髻冠、高雞冠、高冠鳥、黑頭公、紅屎忽

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Asia HK Lizards Species Profiles

Asian Water Dragon – Hong Kong Wildlife | 長鬣蜥 – 香港野生動物

Never getting a PR ID card (permanent residency) in spite of residing in here for decades.

Expats who live in here and have their kids and grandkids bred, born and raised in here are called locals. But when it comes to wild animals it’s not how it works.

An alien species, it is among the oldest introduced lizards of Hong Kong. I personally first found them in the wild in the early 1980s. But they should have a much longer history living here. My uncles showed me photos of them they took during some hikes back in the 1960s.

The Asian water dragon (Physignathus cocincinus) is originally native to China and mainland Southeast Asia. It is also known as the Chinese water dragon, Thai water dragon, and green water dragon.

The Asian water dragon is the only all-green lizard in Hong Kong (if the Green iguanas and Madagascar day geckos have not yet developed local populations), not to be confused with the Australian water dragon (Intellagama lesueurii, formerly Physignathus lesueurii) which’s colors vary from brown, olive, dark gray to light gray.

Physignathus cocincinus (Cuvier, 1829)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Genus: Physignathus
Species: cocincinus

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長鬣蜥, 水龍, 綠水龍, 中國水龍, 亞洲水龍

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Asia HK Species Profiles

Gray’s Chinese Gecko – Hong Kong Wildlife | 中國壁虎 – 香港野生動物

Gray’s Chinese gecko (Gekko chinensis) is a species of gecko endemic to southern China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan) and Hong Kong.

There are 8 species of geckos in Hong Kong. The Gray’s Chinese gecko is the second most common gecko after the “house gecko”, Bowring’s gecko (Hemidactylus bowringii)

Gekko chinensis (Gray, 1842)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Genus: Gekko
Species: chinensis

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中國壁虎, 中國蜥虎, 中國守宮, 檐蛇, 簷蛇

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Asia HK Invertebrates Species Profiles

Amphibious Litter Cockroach – Hong Kong Wildlife | 東方水蠊 – 香港野生動物

Opisthoplatia orientalis (Burmeister, 1838)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Blattodea
Family: Blaberidae
Genus: Opisthoplatia
Species: orientalis

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東方水蠊, 金邊土鱉, 東洋斑蜚蠊, 東洋斑蠊, 短翅蟑螂, Amphibious Litter Roach

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Africa Americas Asia Australia Europe HK Species Profiles

Jumping Spider – Hong Kong Wildlife | 跳蛛 – 香港野生動物

These teeny weeny little spiders have huge eyes! Jumping spiders have 4 pairs of eyes – 1 principal pair that is movable and 3 secondary pairs that are fixed.

There are over 6,000 described species of jumping spiders in the world, making it the largest family of spiders at 13% of all species.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Salticidae (Blackwall, 1841)

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跳蛛 , 蠅虎科 , 豹虎 , 金絲貓

Categories
Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Banded Bullfrog – Hong Kong Wildlife | 花狹口蛙 – 香港野生動物

Banded bullfrog (Kaloula pulchra) is also called Asiatic painted frog, Malaysian narrow-mouthed toad, Asian banded bullfrog, Rice frog, Bubble frog, and Chubby frog.

Kaloula pulchra (Gray, 1831)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Microhylidae
Genus: Kaloula
Species: pulchra

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

花狹口蛙, 亞洲錦蛙

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Asia HK Invertebrates Species Profiles

Lychee Stink Bug – Hong Kong Wildlife | 荔枝椿象 – 香港野生動物

Lychee giant stink bug (Tessaratoma papillosa) is beautiful bug growing to 24 mm. Nymphs are especially colorful. But it is considered a pest by farmers as it feeds on lychee and longan trees by sucking the saps from its flowers, young fruits, and twigs.

They are called stink bugs because when threatened their defense mechanism is a foul-smelling, long-lasting excretion. Local people believe it is poisonous and can cause blindness when rubbing eyes after touching it.

Fun fact: Females always lay 14 eggs. Not 13 or 15.

Tessaratoma papillosa (Drury, 1770)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Family: Tessaratomidae
Genus: Tessaratoma
Species: papillosa

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荔枝椿象, 荔蝽, 臭屁蟲, 十四粒

Categories
Africa Americas Asia Europe HK Invertebrates Species Profiles

Harvestman – Hong Kong Wildlife | 盲蛛 – 香港野生動物

Before you want to learn about Harvestmen (also called Daddy longlegs or Harvesters), let me explain a little about invertebrate classification – Fun fact: They are not spiders.

Because of having 8 legs, these bugs are not insects. However, it does not necessarily make them spiders. There are many other bugs with 8 legs.

They are all arachnids (class Arachnida), such as ticks, mites, spiders (order Araneae), scorpions (order Scorpiones), vinegaroons (order Thelyphonida), and together with the Harvestman (order Opiliones). There are over 10,000 described species of harvestmen in the world.

In my photo it is a Leiobunum sp of the harvestman family Sclerosomatidae with over 100 described species.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Opiliones
Family: Sclerosomatidae
Genus: Leiobunum

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

盲蛛目, 長腳盲蛛, 長腿叔叔蜘蛛, 盲蜘蛛

Categories
Asia HK Invertebrates Species Profiles

Pinkwinged Grasshopper – Hong Kong Wildlife | 短額負蝗 – 香港野生動物

Atractomorpha sinensis (Bolívar, 1905)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Orthoptera
Suborder: Caelifera
Family: Pyrgomorphidae
Subfamily: Pyrgomorphinae
Genus: Atractomorpha
Species: sinensis

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短額負蝗, 紅後負蝗, 紅后負蝗

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Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Hong Kong Whipping Frog – Hong Kong Wildlife | 斑腿泛樹蛙 – 香港野生動物

Hong Kong whipping frog (Polypedates megacephalus), also called Spot-legged tree frog, is a species in the shrub frog family (Rhacophoridae). In Hong Kong, it is more commonly known as “Brown tree frog”. But this name is otherwise applied to a few other species of frogs such as Litoria ewingii and Litoria littlejohni of Australia in family Pelodryadidae, and Ecnomiohyla miliaria of Central America in the true tree frog family (Hylidae).

It is widely spread throughout Hong Kong including all major islands. This species is also native to central, southern and southwestern China (including Taiwan and Hainan) and Indo-China peninsula.

An ‘X’-shaped marking can be seen on some of the frogs’ back. Males grow to 5 – 6 cm. Females are bigger, can grow to up to 8 cm. The breeding season is from April to September. Females lay eggs in a white foam nest on tree trunks, bushes, or rocks near water. The nests separate tadpoles from water.

When threatened they can secrete a fluid that may be toxic or unpalatable to potential predators.

Polypedates megacephalus (Hallowell, 1861)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Rhacophoridae
Genus: Polypedates
Species: megacephalus

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

斑腿泛樹蛙、斑腿樹蛙、棕樹蛙、大頭樹蛙、大頭泛樹蛙

Categories
Asia Birds HK Species Profiles

Sooty-headed Bulbul – Hong Kong Wildlife | 白喉紅臀鵯 – 香港野生動物

The Sooty-headed bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster) is a species of songbird in the Bulbul family. Other than Hong Kong, it is also found in most of south-eastern Asia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

In Hong Kong, it is far less common than its cousin the Red-whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus).

Pycnonotus aurigaster (Vieillot, 1818)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pycnonotidae
Genus: Pycnonotus
Species: aurigaster

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Categories
Asia HK Mammals Species Profiles

Leopard Cat – Hong Kong Wildlife | 豹貓 – 香港野生動物

The only native cat of Hong Kong – The Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)

Civet cats are not cats, and the South China tigers (Panthera tigris amoyensis) has been locally extinct long ago.

Leopard cats are as big as some larger domestic cats, with a body length of 40-60 cm, and weighing 2-3 kg. Do not be confused with the Bengal cat (Felis catus x Prionailurus bengalensis) in pet trade which is a hybrid that has been developed from wild leopard cats and domestic cats over 5 generations of cross-breeding. Bengal cats do not have the white patch behind the ear and the white streaks between the eyes and the nose of Leopard cats, like the ones in my photos.

Prionailurus bengalensis (Kerr, 1792)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Felinae
Genus: Prionailurus
Species: bengalensis

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豹貓, 中國豹貓, 石虎

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Asia HK Species Profiles

Long-tailed Sun Skink – Hong Kong Wildlife | 長尾南蜥 – 香港野生動物

The Long-tailed sun skink (Eutropis longicaudata) is also called Long-tailed mabuya. It is 1 of 11 species of skinks in Hong Kong growing to about 40 cm.

Other than Hong Kong, it is also found in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Eutropis longicaudata (Hallowell, 1857)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Scincidae
Genus: Eutropis
Species: longicaudata

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長尾南蜥, 長尾真稜蜥

Categories
Asia HK Species Profiles Turtles

Chinese Box Turtle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 黃緣閉殼龜 – 香港野生動物

There are only 5 species of freshwater turtles native to Hong Kong. But more than 5 other species can be found in here, and they were introduced. This is one of them.

Chinese box turtle (Cuora flavomarginata) is also called Yellow-margined box turtle, or Golden-headed turtle.

Cuora flavomarginata (Gray, 1863)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Geoemydidae
Genus: Cuora
Species: flavomarginata

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

黃緣盒龜, 黃緣閉殼龜, 黃緣箱龜, 夾板龜, 克蛇龜, 食蛇龜, 金頭龜, 中國盒龜, 中國閉殼龜, 中國箱龜

Categories
Asia HK Species Profiles Turtles

Amboina Box Turtle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 馬來閉殼龜 – 香港野生動物

There are only 5 species of freshwater turtles native to Hong Kong. But more than 5 other species can be found in here, and they were introduced. This is one of them.

Amboina box turtle (Cuora amboinensis) is also called Southeast Asian box turtle or Malayan box turtle.

Cuora amboinensis (Daudin, 1802)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Geoemydidae
Genus: Cuora
Species: amboinensis

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

安布閉殼龜, 馬來箱龜, 安布箱龜, 馬來閉殼龜, 安布盒龜, 馬來盒龜

Categories
Asia HK Species Profiles

Greater Coucal – Hong Kong Wildlife | 褐翅鴉鵑 – 香港野生動物

This is a Greater coucal (Centropus sinensis), or crow pheasant, in my backyard.

Centropus sinensis (Stephens, 1815)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Genus: Centropus
Species: sinensis

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

褐翅鴉鵑、大毛雞、烏鴉雉、毛雞、紅毛雞

Categories
Asia HK Mammals Species Profiles

Pallas’s Squirrel – Hong Kong Wildlife | 赤腹松鼠 – 香港野生動物

Squirrels are everywhere in the world, with the exception of Antarctica. These rodents can even be found in the Arctic Circle. But did you know that, like Australia, there were no squirrels in Hong Kong originally? They were introduced.

There are 200 species in the squirrel family (Sciuridae) – Chipmunks, marmots, groundhogs, flying squirrels, prairie dogs, just to name a few. But there is only this species that was introduced to Hong Kong – The Pallas’s squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus)

This species has a wide distribution throughout most of southeastern Asia from India, Bhutan, Myanmar, to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and southern and eastern China, including Hainan, but just not Hong Kong.

It is the only species of squirrel found in Hong Kong. But there are at least 2 subspecies found in here. They are quite clearly apart from each other – C. e. thai is found on the Hong Kong Island such as Pokfulam and Tai Tam. C. e. styani is found in the New Territories such as Tai Po Kau, Shing Mun and Tai Lam.

The Pallas’s squirrel is also known as the Red-bellied tree squirrel. But do not be confused with the Red-bellied squirrel (Rubrisciurus rubriventer) which is another species of Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Callosciurus erythraeus (Pallas, 1779)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Genus: Callosciurus
Species: erythraeus

赤腹松鼠, 紅肚松鼠

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Oriental Ratsnake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 水律 – 香港野生動物

One of the most commonly seen snakes in Hong Kong, non-venomous, growing to 150 to up to 255 cm.

The Oriental ratsnake (Ptyas mucosa) is also known as Common ratsnake, Indian rat snake, ghora pachar, darash or dhaman.

The proper form of the species name is mucosa, as Ptyas is a feminine word form. Older reference materials often mistakenly show mucosus, the masculine form.

Ptyas mucosa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Ptyas
Species: mucosa

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

滑鼠蛇、南蛇、華鼠蛇、水南蛇、水律蛇、菜蛇、滑鼠蛇、華錦蛇

Categories
Asia Birds HK Species Profiles

Yellow-crested Cockatoo – Hong Kong Wildlife | 小葵花鳳頭鸚鵡 – 香港野生動物

I would be in and around the Mid-levels almost every day when I’m in Hong Kong. You can easily find these beautiful white parrots in there. But did you know that they were rarer than the Black-faced spoonbills you always heard of?

In Hong Kong, they are commonly seen in Mid-levels, Central, Wan Chai, Tai Hang, and nearby in Hong Kong Island, particularly around Hong Kong Park.

However, this species is not that common back home. Its populations are dramatically declined in its natural range. Right, it is not a native species of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is second home to the introduced, critically endangered Yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea). This species is native to Indonesia. A total of fewer than 2,000 are left in the world. 200 of them live in Hong Kong.

The Yellow-crested cockatoo is originally from East Timor, Sulawesi and the Lesser Sundas of Indonesia. It has become an introduced species of Hong Kong for at least 80 years.

When did they first come to Hong Kong?
This species has a long history of being pets. There are records of Yellow-crested cockatoos entering Hong Kong as pets as far back as in the 1850s.

How did they establish a wild population?
The most believed story is that Hong Kong Governor Sir Mark Aitchison Young released the Government House’s entire bird collection, including a large number of this species, hours before surrendering Hong Kong to Japanese troops in December 1941.

There are now around 200 of them in Hong Kong – that is already more than 10% of its entire population in the world which keeps declining.

It is also known as the Lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo to differentiate from its larger and much more common Australian cousin, the Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita).

Cacatua sulphurea (Gmelin, 1788)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Psittaciformes
Family: Cacatuidae
Genus: Cacatua
Subgenus: Cacatua
Species: sulphurea

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

小葵花鳳頭鸚鵡, 橘冠葵花鳳頭鸚鵡, 小葵花鸚鵡, 小巴丹鸚鵡, 小巴, 小葵

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

King Cobra – Hong Kong Wildlife | 眼鏡王蛇 – 香港野生動物

Every time I ask the boys, from young boys to teenagers to young men, “What’s your favorite snake?” I definitely hear King cobra more than any other snakes! Despite the fact that it doesn’t have the deadliest venom comparing to the Inland taipan, the King cobra still holds a special place in many boys’ hearts as “the most dangerous snake in the world”. It could even be prior to the hottest pop star or the coolest car because all those will become obsolete from time to time. But the realm of the King cobra just never gets dated.

Arguably the largest venomous snake

Some Gaboon vipers (even though obviously shorter) could be heavier than King cobras. So the King cobra is sometimes not considered the largest venomous snake (in weight), but it is undoubtedly the longest venomous snake in the world – commonly grow to over 10-12 feet, with the longest record over 19 feet. It is much longer than the second-longest venomous snake, the Black mamba, which generally won’t exceed 9 feet.

The King

Do we call the females Queen cobras, like queen bees? No. We also don’t call the young Prince cobras or Princess cobras. King is an honor to refer to its top danger level and its snake-eating habit.

O. hannah

Oh, Hannah! Hey, all the Hannahs out there! Did you know that you share the name with the King cobra? Ophiophagus hannah in Greek means arboreal snake-eater. The name was given by Danish naturalist Theodore Edward Cantor in 1836.

Ophiophagy

As its name suggests, the Kings are ophiophagous. They specialized in eating snakes. In Hong Kong, I’ve seen them preying on young Burmese pythons, Oriental ratsnakes, deadly Banded kraits and Many-banded kraits. Having snakes as the staple diet doesn’t mean the Kings will never ever eat anything else. Not common at all, but I’ve also seen them eating Water monitor lizards. In captivity, some Kings can be converted into chowing down rodents or birds. To make that happen it will require some tricks to confuse the Kings which will make things pretty messy. I ain’t gonna describe it here..

What? King cobra is not a cobra?

Even such a popular snake has its little secret that most people don’t know. Sorry to be a killjoy. The King cobra is not a cobra. True cobras are smaller and they are all in the genus Naja such as the Chinese cobra.

Different realms, different Kings

These in my photos are the Kings I encountered in SE Asia unofficially known as “Malaysian king cobras”. The King cobras in Hong Kong, unofficially known as “Chinese king cobras”, have much darker coloration from tan to almost black with indistinct yellow bands all over the body. The yellow bands start off bright yellow when young and fade into a pale color close to the body color when old. They are the same species though. No subspecies have been distinguished within the species. That is always only one recognized King.

Ophiophagus hannah (Cantor, 1836)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Subfamily: Elapinae
Genus: Ophiophagus
Species: hannah

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

眼鏡王蛇 又叫 過山烏 , 過山峰 , 山萬蛇 , 大眼鏡蛇。但不是飯鏟頭。

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Burmese Python – Hong Kong Wildlife | 蟒蛇 – 香港野生動物

Gentle giant – the Burmese python is the largest native species in Hong Kong (in length) which I feel more comfortable catching than many smaller snakes. Not saying they won’t bite though.

Size does matter, but length or girth?
Wild pythons in Hong Kong used to be much larger back in the 50s. The record-holder was 5.74 m (18’10”). Nowadays the ones found rarely exceed 3-4 m. But length is not what makes the Burmese python a true giant. Weight is. The heaviest record is 182.8 kg (403 lb). A few species could grow longer (such as the Reticulated python) but probably only one single species can grow heavier – the Green anaconda.

The Big 5

The Burmese python is the largest snake in Hong Kong and the second-largest (in weight) in the world after the Green anaconda. Together with the Reticulated python (the longest snake in the world), African rock python, and Indian python, they make the big 5 of snakes. But the size ranking of these giant snakes should not be considered definitive. There is considerable variation in the maximum reported size of these species, and most measurements are not truly verifiable.

The 5 largest snakes in the world (not listed in order):

  1. Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
  2. Burmese python (Python bivittatus)
  3. Reticulated python (Malayopython reticulatus)
  4. African rock python (Python sebae)
  5. Indian python (Python molurus)

Has Burma separated from India a decade ago? What?

Surprisingly, such an iconic snake did not get to become a full species until 2009. Before that, the Burmese python was considered just a subspecies of the Indian python (Python molurus). Asian rock python was the name for both on the species level.

It swallows more than just swallows

When keeping backyard poultry was still allowed in Hong Kong back in the day, before 2006, chicken was the python’s favorite item on the menu. After 2006, its diet has been back to natural which consists of birds, rodents, feral cats, dogs, monkeys, barking deers, calves, goats, and wild boars.

Overgrown in the West; Protected in the East

Despite the fact that the Burmese python has become a very “successful” invasive species on the other side of the globe in the Florida Everglades, it is locally protected in Hong Kong. As apex predators of Hong Kong, these giant snakes contribute to ecosystem services by controlling the overpopulation of rodents, boars, and especially feral cats which kill a large number of local species every night.

Juvenile Burmese pythons can be preyed on by King cobras, feral cats, owls and other birds. I’ve seen Red-billed blue magpies eating them. Adults have no natural predators.

Due to their large mass and the amount of self-confidence, when we encounter them chances are they can be moving very slowly. Roadkills happen often. I have had them crossing the road slowly (or barely moving) right in front of my car when driving in suburbs or rural areas. I had to block the road with my car until they finished crossing. Even had to move those not willing to move to the roadside.

They travel by day, too

Mainly nocturnal, but they are often found hanging out during the day in the warmer days in Hong Kong. They travel a lot – have a large home range. It is recorded that there’s a radio-tracked adult female which covered an area of more than 12 hectares within 24 hours on Lantau Island.

Not only in Burma

In Hong Kong, it is widely distributed including all major islands. Outside Hong Kong, in spite of the name, the distribution of the Burmese pyhton is not limited to Myanmar but throughout southern and Southeast Asia, including India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and southern China in Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi, and Yunnan.

Python bivittatus (Kuhl, 1820)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae
Genus: Python
Species: bivittatus

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

緬甸蟒, 蟒蛇, 黑蛇蟒, 蚺蛇, 南蛇, 琴蛇

Categories
Asia HK Mammals Species Profiles

Small Indian Civet – Hong Kong Wildlife | 小靈貓 – 香港野生動物

Civets (or sometimes called civet cats, though they are not cats) are small, lean, mostly nocturnal mammal native to tropical forests of Asia and Africa.

Kopi luwak (also called civet coffee, caphe cut chon, fox-dung coffee, kape alamid) is a coffee that is prepared using coffee cherries that have been eaten and partly digested by the Asian palm civet.

In Hong Kong, there are officially 3 native civets – The Small Indian civet (Viverricula indica taivana), the Masked palm civet (Paguma larvata taivana), and the Large Indian civet (Viverra zibetha). The first two are still common but the last one has not been discovered since the 1970s, hence is considered extirpated.

Viverricula indica (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Viverridae
Genus: Viverricula
Hodgson, 1838
Species: indica

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

小靈貓, 七間狸, 麝香貓

Categories
Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Asian Black-spined Toad – Hong Kong Wildlife | 黑眶蟾蜍 – 香港野生動物

Asian black-spined toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) is also called Asian common toad, black-spectacled toad, or just Asian toad. It is probably the most common amphibian in Hong Kong.

It is also widely distributed throughout Asia from Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, southern China, Taiwan, and Macau to Malaysia, Singapore, and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Anambas and Natuna Islands.

It has been accidentally introduced to many other parts of the world as an invasive species such Bali in 1958, Sulawesi in 1974, then subsequently to Ambon, Lombok, Sumba, Sumbawa, Timor and Indonesian New Guinea, Australia in 2000, and Madagascar in 2011.

Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Schneider, 1799)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Bufonidae
Genus: Duttaphrynus
Species: melanostictus

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

黑眶蟾蜍, 癩蝦蟆

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Many-banded Krait – Hong Kong Wildlife | 銀環蛇 – 香港野生動物

Many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus), or Multi-banded krait, is much smaller than its cousin Banded Krait (Bungarus fasciatus) but is surprisingly deadlier – the most venomous krait in the world!

Distribution
In Hong Kong, it’s widely distributed in New Territories and on some islands. Outside Hong Kong, it’s found in much of central and southern China and Southeast Asia.

Habitat
These kraits dwell in a diversity of habitats including shrublands, forests, agricultural areas, mangroves, and marshes. They prefer humid lowlands. I often found them inside catchwaters. Uncommon in drier grasslands and woodlands.

Behavior
Just like other kraits, it is strictly nocturnal. The ones I found during the day were all very timid and didn’t try to bite. But at night they will become highly alert.

Diet
Kraits are ophiophagous, preying primarily upon other snakes (including venomous and harmless snakes) and can be cannibalistic, feeding on their own kind. I have also seen few of them eating small rodents, frogs and lizards.

Reproduction
Oviparous. 4-8 eggs per clutch.

Venom
Bites can be deadly to humans. The venom is highly toxic with LD50 values of 0.09 – 0.108 mg/kg. Clinical effects include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and dizziness. Severe envenomation can lead to respiratory failure and death may occur due to suffocation. I have been super careful when catching the one in my photo together with every single one I caught by hand. They are smaller, more wiggly, more slippery, and harder to get a hold of.

Bungarus multicinctus (Blyth, 1861)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: multicinctus

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

銀環蛇, 銀腳帶, 銀蛇, 白節蛇, 銀包鐵, 雨傘節、寸白蛇、過基甲、過基峽、簸箕甲、手巾蛇、銀腳帶、銀環蛇、金錢蛇、銀蛇、花扇柄(客家話)、雨傘柄(潮州話)、小白藥蛇、台灣克雷特.

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Banded Krait – Hong Kong Wildlife | 金環蛇 – 香港野生動物

Strangely, this is a “tame” kind of deadly snake.

This kind of black-and-yellow rarely bites, but if it does it’s gonna kill.

The Banded krait (Bungarus fasciatus) is a large, venomous snake growing to anywhere from 100 up to 210 cm (3’3″ to 6’11”). It is larger but less venomous than its cousin, the Many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus). But who cares? Bites are still toxic enough to kill humans!

Distribution
In Hong Kong, it’s distributed in some particular parts of the New Territories, Hong Kong Island, and Lantau. Outside Hong Kong, it’s widely distributed from India to southern China, and from Malay Peninsula to Indonesia.

Habitat
It prefers living in lowlands with much vegetation and water like shrublands, cultivated fields, and marshes. Uncommon in drier grasslands and woodlands.

Behavior
Just like other kraits, it is strictly nocturnal. The ones I found during the day were all very timid and didn’t try to bite. But at night they will become highly alert.

Diet
Kraits are ophiophagous, preying primarily upon other snakes (including venomous and harmless snakes) and can be cannibalistic, feeding on their own kind. Banded kraits in Hong Kong mainly feed on rat snakes (Ptyas sp). I have also seen few of them eating frogs and lizards.

Reproduction
Oviparous. 6-14 eggs per clutch.

Venom
The Banded krait rarely attack. But when it does defensively its bites can be deadly to humans. The venom mainly contains neurotoxins with LD50 values of 2.4 – 3.6 mg/kg. Clinical effects include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and dizziness. Severe envenomation can lead to respiratory failure and death may occur due to suffocation.

Bungarus fasciatus (Schneider, 1801)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Bungarus
Species: fasciatus

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

金腳帶, 金環蛇, 金甲帶, 黃金甲, 鐵包金, 金蛇, 金甲帶、金包鐵、金腳帶、花扇柄(客家話)、雨傘柄(潮州話), 佛蛇

Categories
Asia HK Mammals Species Profiles

Pangolin – Hong Kong Wildlife | 穿山甲 – 香港野生動物

This mammal has a lot in common with the porcupine. It is also nocturnal, slow-moving, and with high protection of the body made out of keratin. But unlike the porcupine, this one is rare.

Extremely rare, critically endangered, and the number 1 most trafficked mammal in the world.

Did you know that we have pangolins in Hong Kong? Pangolins specialize in eating ants and termites with their long sticky tongue. They are the only mammals with scales all over their body. They were thought to be related to armadillos, anteaters, and sloths in the past. But new studies suggest that they are unique mammals not related to anything that looks alike.

There are 8 species of pangolins in the world. They are found in Asia and Africa – 3 species are endangered. Another 3 species are critically endangered, including our native one – The Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla).

They used to be a lot more common back in the days. We could find them from time to time. But now you have to be very experienced plus super lucky to just find one, thanks to deforestation and poaching for their meat and scales to be used in traditional medicines. What for? Hysterical crying in children and women thought to be possessed by devils. What do you say?

Manis pentadactyla (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Pholidota
Family: Manidae
Genus: Manis
Subgenus: Manis
Species: pentadactyla

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

 這一種哺乳類動物, 跟箭豬有很多相似的地方。牠也是夜行性動物, 行動緩慢, 身體外層有堅硬角質層保護。但不似箭豬, 這動物非常罕有。

你知道香港有穿山甲嗎? 穿山甲會用牠細長又具黏力的舌頭吃蟻及白蟻, 牠們是唯一一種有鱗片的哺乳類動物。牠們以往經常被誤為與犰狳, 食蟻獸, 或樹懶有關係。但新的研究表示, 牠們是獨立的一個品種, 跟其他表徵相似的動物沒有關係。

在亞洲及非洲一共有8種穿山甲, 其中3種是瀕危品種, 另外3種是極危物種, 包括香港本地的中華穿山甲 (Manis pentadactyla), 是全球走私量最高的動物。

穿山甲在以往比較容易被發現, 我們間中可以看到牠們。多得了森林開伐及非法獵捕, 現在你必須超級幸運才能看到一隻。人們捕捉牠們據說具有藥用價值的肉及鱗片, 到底是為了甚麼? 小兒的睡眠不寧和容易驚醒, 或作驅魔之用。你覺得呢?

Categories
Asia HK Mammals Species Profiles

Porcupine – Hong Kong Wildlife | 箭豬 – 香港野生動物

If you will go on a night hike this is possibly the easiest animal to spot.

The only porcupine species in Hong Kong is the Malayan porcupine (Hystrix brachyura). I found these spiky fellows in Kowloon Peak. It has become obviously more common in the Mid-levels along Blacks Link, Bowen Road, and the Victoria Peak, also in mountains in the New Territories.

Porcupines are not hedgehogs.

No, not Sonic! Hedgehogs are not rodents and there are no native hedgehogs in Hong Kong. Hedgehogs have short quills all over their back. Porcupines are large rodents covered with long quills all over the rear part of the body. The quills are hard and sharp. But they are actually hairs – some modified hairs coated with a lot of keratin.

You may have heard of porcupines shooting spines at predators. Umm.. very exciting! Unfortunately, it’s not true. They cannot shoot quills. But we don’t have to worry about them not protecting themselves well. When there are predators they will raise up their long sharp quills and run backwards towards the predators. When the quills are touched, they can be released and stuck in the predator’s body. Ouch!

What if they are so unlucky to meet many predators the same night. Will they lose all the quills and become a guinea pig? No, they can regrow new quills. Remember what I mentioned? Quills are hairs.

Hystrix brachyura (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Hystricidae
Genus: Hystrix
Species: brachyura

This video is about porcupines and other animals of Hong Kong.

This video is about hedgehogs but I have talked about its difference from porcupines.

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

如果你晚上會到郊外走走, 你可能很容易看到這種動物 – 香港的箭豬品種是馬來箭豬 Hystrix brachyura. 我在九龍半山看到這長滿尖刺的傢伙, 現在也很容易可以於香港島半山區, 沿著布力徑, 寶雲道, 以及山頂及新界一帶山嶺找得到。

箭豬不是刺蝟, 牠們不是超音鼠, 牠們是大型嚙齒目, 身體後半部都是長尖刺。尖刺都非常堅硬及尖銳, 那些其實是毛髮, 是因為角質層包裹著而變成的硬刺。

你也許有聽過前箭豬會放刺攻擊敵人, 唔,  那會令人非常興奮! 可惜那是錯的。牠們不會放刺攻擊, 但我們也不用擔心牠們, 當敵人靠近牠們時 牠們會立即將尖刺豎起, 然後反方向跑到敵人那方。當尖刺碰到任何東西, 都可以脫離牠們身體, 插進敵人的身體。噢呀。

假如牠們有一晚, 不幸同時遇上很多敵人怎麼辦? 牠們會用盡所有刺然後變成天竺鼠嗎? 不用擔心, 牠們的刺都會再長出來。

Categories
Asia Birds HK Species Profiles

Red-billed Blue Magpie – Hong Kong Wildlife | 藍喜鵲 – 香港野生動物

Flying right outside my house comes these cheeky birds. They don’t only rob nests they also chow up snakes like sucking up noodles. Saw that. Nope. Didn’t “save” the snakes.

Red-billed blue magpie (Urocissa erythroryncha) is a member of the crow family. Not the most popular bird in Hong Kong but its Taiwanese cousin, Formosan blue magpie (Urocissa caerulea), is the national bird in Taiwan.

It is a resident bird in Hong Kong. Pretty common and widespread, especially in Mid-Levels on Hong Kong Island.

These are some of them having fun right outside my house at the peak these days. So I was just taking these snapshots while having coffee outside. So I was just taking these snapshots while having coffee outside.

Identifying this bird is easy. Its tail is longer than any other birds you can find in Hong Kong. The species is also found in Western Himalayas, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, and China. Typical habitats are mountains and forests.

They feed on seeds and fruits. I have also seen them hunting small animals from invertebrates, frogs, lizards to snakes! They rob nests, too.

Urocissa erythroryncha (Boddaert, 1783)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Corvidae
Genus: Urocissa
Species: U. erythroryncha

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

紅嘴藍鵲是香港的定居鳥, 廣泛分佈於香港, 特別在香港的半山區。

這一隻是其中一隻在我們基地外玩耍的紅嘴藍鵲, 這些相片是我在喝咖啡的時候拍下來的。

要分辨這隻鳥很容易, 牠的尾巴比一般你在香港看到的鳥類長。這個品種在喜馬拉雅山脈西面, 緬甸, 柬埔寨, 老撾, 越南及中國。

牠們住在山嶺及森林內, 主要以節肢類, 種子及果實為食, 牠們也會搶其他烏類的巢呢。

Categories
Africa Americas Asia Australia Europe HK Species Profiles Turtles

Green Sea Turtle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 綠海龜 – 香港野生動物

Did you know that sea turtles would come to Hong Kong?

There are 7 species of sea turtles in the world, and surprisingly all of them have been spotted in Hong Kong waters. How amazing!

Our most frequent visitor is the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Young turtles are carnivores, preying on crabs, shrimps, jellyfish, and squid. Adults are herbivores, feeding on seaweed.

It is an endangered species, but can be found in all tropical oceans around the world including Hong Kong. They even came ashore! Sham Wan in Lamma Island has a small population known to nest on a regular basis. Only 2 records of nesting outside Lamma Island: Once in Big Wave Bay Beach, Shek O in 2000. Another time in another big wave bay, Tai Long Wan Beach, Sai Kung in 2006.

Oh! Those mama turtles must be surfers. They love big waves!

Chelonia mydas (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Chelonioidea
Family: Cheloniidae
Subfamily: Cheloniinae
Genus: Chelonia
Species: mydas

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

你知道海龜會到訪香港嗎?

世界上有7種海龜, 意想不到7種都曾經被發現出沒過於香港水域, 真的很神奇!

我們最常見的訪客是Chelonia mydas 綠海龜, 年輕的綠海龜是肉食性動物, 會吃魚蝦蟹及魷魚。成年的綠海龜是草食性動物 主要以海藻為食。

綠海龜是瀕危物種, 但可以在所有熱帶的海洋找得到, 包括香港, 牠們甚至會上岸! 南丫島的深灣沙灘是香港唯一經常有綠海龜產卵的地點, 於南丫島以外, 只有2次紀錄。於2000年一次在石澳大浪灣, 另一次於2006年在西貢大浪灣。

噢 綠海龜媽媽們必定是衝浪者, 牠們都喜歡大浪!

Categories
Asia HK Species Profiles Turtles

Golden Coin Turtle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 金錢龜 – 香港野生動物

The Chinese three-striped box turtle (Cuora trifasciata), or better known as Golden coin turtle in Chinese, used to be very common when I was a kid which I refuse to provide the number of years ago. However, now it has become critically endangered due to habitat destruction and poaching.

This species is now very rare but widely distributed in a few localities in Hong Kong and southern China. I have only found a few of them in mountain streams throughout the years.

Unlike most turtles, this is a nocturnal species. It hides very well during the day. It can grow up to 20 cm. As a carnivore, it feeds on insects, fish, frogs, crabs, and snails.

The plastron (bottom shell) is what makes this turtle special. There is a hinge in the middle, to allow complete closure of the shell. That’s why they are called box turtles. But the plastron is also the reason why they got killed by humans to make a Chinese medicine called “turtle jelly”.

Cuora trifasciata (Bell, 1825)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Geoemydidae
Genus: Cuora
Species: trifasciata

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

三線閉殼龜, 或者廣為人知的金錢龜, 當我還是小孩的時候其實非常普遍, 不過我不會告訴你實際是多少年以前(笑)。由於棲息地被破壞 以及非法濫捕, 現在已變完成瀕危物種。

這個品種很罕有, 但廣泛分佈於某幾個香港及中國南部的地區。我在這些年只於山澗之中 曾經找到過幾隻。

不似大部分龜類, 這是夜行性的品種, 牠們善於日間躲藏不易被發現。體長可達20厘米。肉食性的金錢龜會以昆蟲, 魚類, 蛙類, 蟹類以及蝸牛為食。

龜腹甲(龜殼底甲)是金錢龜的特別之處, 底甲中間是一個可開合的韌帶, 容許龜殼完全閉合。牠們可以將身體所有部份縮入龜殼以躲開敵人, 也因此牠們被稱為盒龜。但特別的龜甲也是牠們被人類殺害, 來製造具有藥用功效的龜苓膏的原因。

Categories
Asia HK Invertebrates Species Profiles

White Moth Bug – Hong Kong Wildlife | 白蛾蠟蟲 – 香港野生動物

This is a Flatid planthopper (Lawana imitata), or commonly known as White moth bugs, I found in Sha Tau Kok, northern Fanling, New Territories. It can also be found in China and Vietnam.

They live in trees. Adults are active from May to October. I think they look so elegant and beautiful, but farmers just hate them because they drink plant juices from stems to leaves to fruits. This species is considered a pest of citrus, tea, mango, guava, grape, lychee, and cashew.

Lawana imitata (Melichar, 1902)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Infraorder: Fulgoromorpha
Superfamily: Fulgoroidea
Family: Flatidae
Genus: Lawana
Species: imitata

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

白蛾蠟蟲, 紫絡蛾蠟蟬, Flatid planthopper (Lawana imitata)。

我曾經在新界粉嶺北區看過牠們, 你也可以在中國和越南發現牠們的蹤跡。

牠們住在樹上, 成蟲(成年的昆蟲)活躍於5月至10月, 我覺得牠們外型優雅美麗, 但農夫很討厭牠們, 因為牠們會吸食農作物莖部的汁液, 以至葉子及果實。牠們被認定為某些植物的農業害蟲 ,包括橙, 茶, 芒果, 石榴, 葡萄, 荔枝以及腰果。

Categories
Asia Australia HK Species Profiles

Giant Golden Orb-weaving Spider – Hong Kong Wildlife | 人面蜘蛛 – 香港野生動物

One of the most common spiders in Hong Kong, the Giant golden orb-weaver (Nephila pilipes) can be found in primary and secondary forests almost anywhere in Hong Kong.

This species has a wide distribution throughout Asia, China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and also Papua New Guinea, and Australia.

They may look creepy to you, but don’t worry when you find them next time. They are generally not aggressive and basically harmless to humans. They just eat bugs. But they do get big.

This is the largest spider in Hong Kong. Well, I mean just the ladies. Sexual dimorphism is obvious in this species. A good example of female gigantism and male dwarfism. Females can grow up to 20 cm, while males can be 10 times smaller. So next time when you’re on a hike, finding a big and small spider together. They may not be mother and son but a loving couple.

Nephila pilipes (Fabricius, 1793)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Nephila
Species: pilipes

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

Nephila pilipes 或斑絡新婦 (又稱人面蜘蛛), 是香港其中種最常見的蜘蛛之一。可以在原始森林及次生林找到 (基本上遍佈整個香港)。

這個品種遍佈亞洲, 包括中國, 日本, 越南, 柬埔寨, 台灣, 馬來西亞, 新加坡, 緬甸, 印尼, 泰國, 老撾, 菲律賓, 斯里蘭卡, 印度, 尼泊爾, 巴布亞新畿內亞及澳洲。

牠們看上去也許有點可怕, 但如果你遇到牠們, 請不用擔心。牠們基本上對人類無害, 牠們只吃昆蟲, 雖然牠們的體型可以很大。牠們是香港最大的蜘蛛, 當然, 我指雌性的人面蜘蛛。兩性異形的情況在這個品種中很明顯, 這是一個表現了雌性的巨型化及雄性的矮小化的好例子。

雌性人面蜘蛛的體長可以長達20厘米, 但雄性只有十分之一的大小。所以下次你走到郊外時看到一大一小的蜘蛛, 牠們可能不是母子而是一對戀人。

Categories
Asia HK Lizards Species Profiles

Changeable Lizard – Hong Kong Wildlife | 變色樹蜥 – 香港野生動物

One of the most common lizards in Hong Kong is Calotes versicolor.
It has many common names: Changeable lizard, Crested tree lizard, Oriental garden lizard, Eastern garden lizard, and even Bloodsucker.

Common throughout Hong Kong including all major islands, it is also widely distributed in Asia. These lizards can grow up to 40
centimeters. They are sun-loving lizards, can often be found basking in the middle of the day.

They are not chameleons but there are similarities. They can move each of their eyes in different directions similar to what chameleons do.

As the name suggests, they can change color. Males can change to bright red in the throat, the entire head, or parts of the body during the breeding season. In spite of the fact that they can turn red, they are not venomous. Still, bites are what you often get when you catch them.

Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Genus: Calotes
Species: versicolor

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

其中一種香港最常見的蜥蝪是Calotes versicolor。在牠有很多名字: 變色樹蜥, 雞冠蛇, 馬鬃蛇, 貓公蛇甚至叫做吸血者。

在香港非常普遍包括大部分主要的島嶼, 同時也廣泛遍佈亞洲。這些蜥蝪體長可達40厘米, 喜愛陽光, 你可以很容易看到牠們在享受日光。

一如牠們的名字, 牠們可以轉變身體顏色, 牠們不是變色龍但也有相似的地方。雄性的喉嚨部分, 能夠變成鮮紅色, 甚至整個頭部或身體各個部分, 一般發生於繁殖期間。牠們也可以轉動眼睛到不同的方向, 就像變色龍一樣。

Categories
Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Hong Kong Newt – Hong Kong Wildlife | 香港蠑螈 – 香港野生動物

We have many native frogs, but only 1 tailed amphibian (salamander or newt).

The Hong Kong Newt, or Hong Kong Warty Newt (Paramesotriton hongkongensis) – I have usually found them in clean mountain streams in Lantau, Hong Kong Island, and the eastern and northern parts of New Territories.

It was once believed to be an endemic species of Hong Kong, but later also found in Guangdong Province in China. Some scientists consider it a subspecies of the Chinese warty newt (Paramesotriton chinensis) but many disagree.

They can grow to up to 15 cm (5.9″) and are very slow-moving carnivores so they mainly prey on earthworms and tadpoles. When hungry they even eat the eggs of their own kind!

Basically nocturnal but they also come out in the daytime in a large group during the breeding season. I have seen over 100 of them crawling on land at a time!

Paramesotriton hongkongensis (Myers and Leviton, 1962)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Urodela
Family: Salamandridae
Genus: Paramesotriton
Species: P. hongkongensis

Where in HK?
New Territories, Hong Kong Island, Lantau, etc

Size: 15 cm
Distribution: Hong Kong, Guangdong Province.
Habitat: Unpolluted mountain streams
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Nocturnal
Conservation status: Near Threatened

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

香港有很多蛙類, 但只有一種有尾的兩棲類, 香港瘰螈

香港蠑螈, 我曾經在大嶼山的一些清澈山澗, 找到牠們的蹤跡, 也曾發現牠們於香港島 新界東及新界北。曾經被認為是香港獨有的品種, 但後來發現中國廣東一帶也有出沒。

牠們體長可達15厘米, 牠們是動作很慢的肉食性動物, 主要以蚯蚓及蝌蚪為食。牠們肚餓的時候, 甚麼會進食同類的蛋!

基本上是夜行性動物, 但也會在日間出沒, 特別是繁殖期間, 會群體出沒, 我曾經看過多達100隻香港瘰螈同時出現呢。

Categories
Asia HK Lizards Species Profiles

Water Monitor – Hong Kong Wildlife | 水巨蜥 – 香港野生動物

A gray area in Hong Kong fauna. Once thought to be locally extinct. Now they are here again! Some think they are native. Others think they are imports.

Varanus salvator (Laurenti, 1768)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Varanidae
Genus: Varanus
Species: salvator

Where in HK?
Very rare – reservoirs, rivers, Mai Po marshes

Size: 1.5 – 3.2 m / 4’11 – 10’6″
Distribution: Southern Asia
Habitat: Semi-aquatic
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Diurnal
Conservation status: Least Concern

The Asian water monitor or Common water monitor (Varanus salvator) is the largest lizard in Hong Kong and the world’s second-largest lizard (in weight) after the Komodo dragon. Water monitors can grow to anywhere from 1.5 m (4’11”) to 3.21 m (10’6″) as the largest specimen ever recorded.

Outside Hong Kong, it is widely distributed in southern Asia including the Chinese Guangxi and Hainan provinces. The species was first described in 1768. But it’s not until 1961 the species was first officially recorded in Hong Kong (northern New Territories). Since then few sightings have been reported from time to time. But they were mostly believed to be released or escaped from imports. Many think that those are from the pet market. But I think the food market would be the most possible main source.

They are still rare in Hong Kong but I have been spotting more of them in recent years. Whether natives or imports, it is kind of proven that they have already (re)established a small population in Hong Kong and become our permanent residents.

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

這是一個香港野生動物相的灰色地帶。一度被認為於香港已絕種,但牠們又回來了。有說是香港本地物種, 又有說由外地引入。

水巨蜥, 或者一般大眾認識的五爪金龍, 巨蜥,澤巨蜥,圓鼻巨蜥等等。是香港最大的蜥蝪, 以及科莫多龍以外世界上第二大的蜥蝪(體重計)。由已知的標本紀錄所得知, 水巨蜥體長可由1.5米達到3.21米不等。

在香港以外, 廣泛分佈於亞洲南方中國廣西及海南一帶。最早於1768年有紀錄形容這個物種, 但只有在1961年才第一次於香港(新界北)有官方的紀錄。由於只有少量的發現個案, 普遍認為是外地引入時被野放到野外。 現在牠們在香港仍然非常罕有, 但我在近年有更多的發現。無論牠們是本地品種還是外來的品種, 相信已經在香港(重新)發展到一個數量。

Categories
Asia Birds Europe HK Species Profiles

Eurasian Eagle-owl – Hong Kong Wildlife | 雕鴞 – 香港野生動物

The largest owl inhabits the smallest concrete jungle in Hong Kong. How intriguing!

Birdwatching normally takes place during the day, except for owls. There are 9 species of owls you can possibly spot in Hong Kong. The most common species is the Collared scops owl (Otus lettia) which is a small one usually no bigger than 25 cm. The other 8 species are way harder to find, just like this.

I was so lucky to have found this huge Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo Bubo) in Yuen Long, New Territories. It is locally rare but widely distributed throughout Hong Kong. It can also be found in Central Asia and Russia, all the way to Europe.

It is the World’s largest owl growing to 75 cm (2’6″) tall, with a wingspan of 188 cm (6’2″). Bubo bubo is not just big but lives long too. It can live over 25 years while some other owls have a lifespan of fewer than 4 years.

Bubo bubo (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Bubo
Species: bubo

Where in HK?
Rare

Size: 75 cm – wingspan over 1.8 m
Distribution: Europe and Asia
Habitat: Arboreal
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Nocturnal
Conservation status: Least Concern

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

觀鳥活動通常都於日間進行, 除了觀看貓頭鷹外。

香港有9種貓頭鷹, 你會有機會看得到。最常見的是領角鴞, 通常都很細小不會大於25厘米。另外8種則比較難看得到。

在這圖中的是雕鴞。我很幸運地在新界元朗看到牠。牠們很罕有但廣泛分佈於香港。也可以在亞洲中部, 俄羅斯到歐洲一帶看得到。牠們可體長75厘米, 展開雙翼後更可達至188厘米。

雕鴞不但體型龐大, 壽命也很長, 牠可以活到超過25年。 而其他貓頭鷹一般只能活少於4年。

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Bamboo Snake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 青竹蛇 – 香港野生動物

This green beauty is responsible for the vast majority of snake bites in Hong Kong, or possibly southern Asia.

Trimeresurus albolabris (Gray, 1842)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: (Cryptelytrops) Trimeresurus
Species: albolabris

Where in HK?
Very common – low hilly areas, grasslands, cultivated fields

Size: 50 – 90 cm / 1’8″ – 2’11”
Distribution: Southern Asia
Habitat: Arboreal
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Nocturnal
Conservation status: Least Concern

The Bamboo pit viper or White-lipped pit viper (or occasionally called Green pit viper, Bamboo snake, or Bamboo viper) is the most common venomous snake species in Hong Kong and is responsible for over 90% of the reported snake bites. It can be found in forests, mountains, wetlands, and many different habitats. This species can also be found in Southern China, Indonesia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam.

A small to medium-sized snake growing to 50 cm (1’8″), up to 90 cm (2’11”). Females get bigger than males. Only males have white ventrolateral stripes.

This is a nocturnal species. Even in total darkness, they can catch their prey by using the heat-sensing pits below their eyes which most snakes don’t have. That’s why they’re called pit vipers.

Bites are painful and can cause swelling. The venom is a hemotoxin that attacks red blood cells and causes tissue damage. It may not be deadly to most healthy humans (few fatalities recorded though) but is strong enough to kill or paralyze their prey such as frogs, lizards, and small mammals.

It is one of the 50 species of Asian pit vipers (Trimeresurus). 90% of the snakes in the genus are green. A few of the minority are yellow or blue such as the Sunda Island pit viper. Some are very dark to almost black such as the Mangrove pit viper.

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

青竹蛇, 或稱竹葉青, 白唇竹葉青, 赤尾青竹絲, 是香港最常見的毒蛇。遍佈林木, 山嶺, 濕地以及許多不同的棲息地。

這個物種也可以在中國南方, 印尼,  尼泊爾, 尼泊爾, 巴格達, 緬甸, 泰國, 柬埔寨, 老撾, 越南找到。

這種中小型蛇體長可由50厘米至 90厘米, 這是一種夜行性動物, 即使在夜裡牠仍能捕獵, 使用牠們眼底下的熱能探測器官-頰窩(pits: 凹型窩狀) 由於大部分蛇都沒有頰窩, 也因此牠們被稱為 pit vipers(有凹型窩狀頰窩的蝰蛇)。

被咬到傷口會非常痛, 而且會腫脹。毒液對人類不足以致命, 但絕對足夠殺死牠們的獵物, 例如小哺乳類, 蛙類及蜥蝪。

Categories
Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Spotted Narrow-mouthed Frog – Hong Kong Wildlife | 花细狹口蛙 – 香港野生動物

Cute little mouth in the 852.

I rarely post local species doesn’t mean I don’t do field trips (or herping) in here. It’s just there’re too many animals around the globe that are piquing my “never-canceled” curiosity. Now, staying at home, it’s never been a better time to re-explore Home Kong.

This Hong Kong resident is a Spotted narrow-mouthed frog or known as Kalophrynus interlineatus in science. 1 of the 5 local species in the narrow-mouthed frog family (Microhylidae).

In Hong Kong they are only found in northern New Territories but not Lantau, Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. I found this one in Fanling. They can also be found in southern China, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. Their habitats are forests, cultivated lands and grasslands.

It has subtle eardrums that can hardly be seen. Being small (4 cm) and looking cute doesn’t mean it’s vulnerable. It does secrete toxic fluid when threatened. Oh, and yes, obviously it can only eat a teeny weeny bit of food — mainly ants!

Kalophrynus interlineatus (Edward Blyth, 1855)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Microhylidae
Genus: Kalophrynus
Species: interlineatus

Where in HK?
northern New Territories

Size: 4 – 6 cm
Distribution: Southern Asia
Habitat: Terrestrial
Diet: Insectivore
Conservation status: Least Concern

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

這可愛的蛙類是花细狹口蛙, 又名條紋狹口蛙, 你只能在香港北面的新界找得到, 但不能在大嶼山, 九龍或香港島。

這一隻花细狹口蛙是在粉嶺找到的, 牠們也曾出沒在中國南部 緬甸 越南及泰國, 牠們一般於森林, 耕地, 以及草原出沒。 牠們主要以蟻類為食, 因為牠們的口太小了。