Australia Diaries – Australia Zoo

I make it a point to go to a zoo in every major city that I go to,  that is, if they have a zoo of note. And in Australia, none come as famous as the Australian Zoo so that was our first destination straight from the airport to kick off our Australia holiday.

The Australia Zoo is of course most famous not for its animal but for its founder – the late Steve Irwin, the famed Crocodile Hunter. The Australia Zoo is on the outskirt of Brisbane, about 1.5 hours drive away and as a testimony to the fame of Steve Irwin, the road leading to the Zoo has been named after him!

First thing we saw when we went in was this lizard lying in the open. And then we saw more and more of them. These are native Water Dragons and free roaming in the zoo.  Cute little fella ain’t it.

Of course our purpose in coming to the zoo or any foreign zoo is to see any animals that we might not be able to see in the wild or anywhere else and not some common reptiles. So we were looking forward to seeing some native Australian animals like the Playtus; Tasmanian Devil and of course Australia’s famous venomous snakes. But sadly the zoo has no Playtpus and we didn’t see any Tasmanian Devil in its enclosures. We did see the Dingo though.

There were plenty of Koalas and we can even touch them at one of the exhibits.

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Reptopia @ Singapore Zoo

The Singapore Zoo replaced the old Reptile House with a brand new “Reptopia” which opens in late May this year. The old Reptile House which was looking very dated with all the snakes in small glass tank enclosure. The new Reptopia is firstly air conditioned and very much more comfortable for visitors.  The old walk through exhibit which used to have the iguana and tortoises is now divided into 2 smaller areas with one of them featuring the Caiman crocodile and the other the same iguana and the tortoises.

The snakes and other reptiles are now housed in much bigger enclosures with different compatible species kept in same enclosures.Here are some of the snakes that are displayed in the new Reptopia. 

Ball Python

Green Tree Python

Reticulated Python

King Cobra

Keeled Rat Snake

Gabon Viper

Emerald Tree Boa

Western Diamond Backed Rattlesnake

Mangrove Snake

Sadly though, the number of snakes specimen has been reduced drastically. The Singapore snakes area is no more and the popular anaconda has been moved to the River Safari.

There are now a lot more lizards some of which I understand from some sources are confiscated lizards from the public. In addition, there are weird looking lizards like gila monster, beard dragon and skink.

Caiman Lizard

Fuji Banded Iguana

Gila Monstor

Bearded Dragon

Ornate Spiny Tailed Lizard

There are now several species of chameleon. I didn’t know there are so many species and so colorful too.

Parson’s Chameleon

Panther Chameleon

Yemen Chameleon

Last but not least there are a few rare frogs and even a tarantula.

Dyeing Poison Frog

 

All in, despite the reduced number of snakes, I think this new Reptopia is certainly worth a visit especially for those who are into reptiles.

Reptiles Day

It is bird migratory season here in Singapore and the various bird photo groups on FB have lighted up with chatter about some rare shorebirds at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. So I went down to kapo a bit but was disappointed when there was not a single bird to be seen at the main pond. The water level was too high! Had to walk to walk the entire round before spotting them at the other pond but they were too far away for any decent individual photos.

But the trip was not wasted though. To make up for the lack of birds, there was reptiles aplenty. I have never had on any single trip to any local or for that matter local reserve or parks spotted so many different species of reptiles – from the biggest predator, the Estuarine Crocodile to the small little gecko.

First was the by now fairly common resident croc of SBWR at the main pond under the main bridge. CRU_3634

Further inland, M spotted what was a first for every one of us – a Shore Pit Viper!CRU_3668

Then there was a series of reptiles both big and small including 1 more crocodile and all sort of lizards.

A very common invasive species the Changeable LizardCRU_3723

In contrast, the not very common Bearded Dragon lizard which can glide from trees to trees. In fact we did see a few of them “flying” all over.CRU_3679

There was the shy skinkCRU_3771

And a gecko on the ceiling of one of the hideCRU_3683

And of course many monitor lizard including this little one trying to look for prey inside the tree trunkCRU_3764

On the way out we spotted a juvenile crocodile sunning itselfCRU_3871

But it was at the new SBWR that we saw 3 more Oriental Whip Snakes. The sound of thunder and the approaching rain cloud forced us to beat a hasty retreat without taking a photo of the 4th snake.

CRU_3943

Photo take by Alicia

CRU_4013

Photo taken by Alicia

So the trip wasn’t wasted and turned out to be one of the most fruitful ever visit to the place!

 

Night Walk at Pasir Ris Mangrove

Joined the Herpetological Society of Singapore for a guided night walk at Pasir Ris Mangrove.  Interesting thing is that I go o often to Pasir Ris Park, like 3 times a week and have never thought of going to the mangrove in the night. Perhaps it is the creepy feel about the place but then when I saw the post about the walk, I knew I have to go for it. The promise of seeing reptiles and other night creatures was too tempting.

We started at about 6.15 pm. The walk was led by a few very young and enthusiastic guides with incredible knowledge of not just reptiles or amphibians but also the plants and birds.

Within 10 minutes of walking into the mangrove, beside the usual mud skipper and crab, they managed to spot the first snake – a small Dog Faced Water Snake.

Dog faced Water Snake

Dog faced Water Snake

And by the time we exit the mangrove after 8, we had spotted 6 of them with each being progressively bigger.

Dog Faced Water Snake

Dog Faced Water Snake

Dog Faced Water Snake

Dog Faced Water Snake

We also spotted 3 different species of Gecko. Just can’t imagine how these guys do it. The geckos were so tiny and very well blend in with the surface they were on yet they managed to spot them. Like this little Spotted House Gecko.

Spotted House Gecko

ASpotted House Gecko

And this real tiny 4 Clawed Gecko

4 Clawed Gecko

4 Clawed Gecko

Out of the mangrove and we spotted many insects but the highlight was this Oriental Whip Snake which stay still and posed for the photo.

Oriental Whip Snake

Oriental Whip Snake

The other highlight of the trip was 3 Civet Cat. A mama cat with 2 cubs. Unfortunately they were too far away for any decent photos. In fact with my poor eyesight, all I could see was the glow of the cats reflected in the light of the torches. But certainly it is gratifying to know that within such a small area in Pasir Ris beside the birds, there are so many more other creatures that has managed to live side by side with the resident of Pasir Ris.

 

 

Vistaprint.com

Somewhere late last year I ordered a calendar from Vistaprint.com, an online printing company.

Subsequently, according to the delivery note, the item has been shipped and was expected to reach me on 7 January 2014 via Singpost. When I saw the name, Singpost, I was like “uh-oh” and true enough, by the 10 January, I had still not receive it. So I duly wrote an email to Vistaprint to inform them that I had not receive the calendar. I received the usual standard acknowledgement  and that was that or so I thought.
The next day, the calendar came. In my excitement at looking at the calendar, I forgot about the email that I had sent out. 
That night, I got a notification from Paypal informing of a credit to my account. That was odd. What was that for? Before I can delve further, I got an email from Vistaprint informing me that they had refunded my postage and on top of that – sent me another new calendar! Feeling embarrased by now, I quickly sent another email to them to inform that I had the calendar and there was no need to send me a new one. But it was too late. Seems like they had already shipped it out.
I am truly impressed! I had when I sent out the first email expected them to tell me to wait a few more days for the item to be delivered.but instead what I got was superb service with no question ask. And so now for the price of 1, I got 2 calendars.

This is the 2nd time I ordered items from Vistaprint. Unlike other online photo book sites, they have a wide variety of products. I am happy with the pricing, the quality and most of all the service and I will certainly order from them again.

Snakes of Cameron Highlands

Some people might think we are kinda weird to go all the way to Cameron Highlands and see snakes in captivity especially as the Singapore Zoo has a wider range but the snakes were at the butterfly farms that we visited so why not?
And with 2013 being the year of the Snake, I think its good and auspicious to end 2012 and start off 2013 with what else but snakes!

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Have a  blessed healthy sizzling Snake year!