Walk past a line of trees in the early evening and hear the chirping of birds as they nest in for the night. Birds are the constant companions of this city’s residents, and you’ll see them everywhere. The most common is the Javan Myna – you’ll recognise it from its black-and-brown feathers and bright yellow beak. This confident, intelligent bird will hop right up to you if you’re eating your lunch on a bench.
Another common species of bird is the House Crow, which is entirely black, right down to its beak. While crows can sound intimidating with their distinctive loud caws, they are completely harmless.
Get a little outside the city and you might encounter a much larger animal: the monitor lizard. These large reptiles are about 2.5 to 3 metres in length and live close to the water, so you might see them around forests, mangroves, resevoirs, and in the heritage-listed Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Most monitor lizards are shy, and will avoid humans whenever they can. However, if they’re feeling threatened, they can bite or strike out with their long tails. The force of the monitor’s tail is said to be enough to fracture an adult’s bone! For this reason, monitors are best observed from a distance. And as with all wildlife, be respectful and do not provoke the animal.
Walking around Singapore’s wildlife reserves and reservoirs, you may also encounter members of the native monkey population, particularly the Long-Tailed Macaque. Due to deforestation across the island, many have lost their natural habitats and are moving increasingly into human spaces.
Generally, monkeys don’t pose a threat, but you may encounter aggressive monkeys that associate humans with food. If you're in an area with monkeys, the most responsible action is to not feed them. Also, take care to keep any food you're carrying inside a securely closed bag – monkeys have very clever ears that are well adapted to listening for the rustle of food packets!
Singapore has its share of snakes including pythons and cobras, although they’re not common in most urban areas. Venturing into quieter, greener areas, however, may put you in touch with some harmless snakes – and perhaps a venomous one or two! Since it's difficult to be sure which is which,
But one of the most charming things about Singapore’s greener areas are the squirrels. The species native to this island is the Plaintain Squirrel, which you can spot by its greyish-brown coat and bright chestnut underbelly. It's common to see this little critter scurrying across tree branches and picking up fruit and nuts from the ground.