The Smell of Death

September 2, 2010 at 11:09 am | Posted in itchy fingers | 2 Comments
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The air at Sungei Buloh this day was filled with a repulsive stench…it was nauseating, the stench of death. Itchyfingers looked around and saw no dead fish or animals in the water or the mudflat. Then we spotted a big Malayan Water Monitor Lizard (Varanus salvator) coming out from the water.

It was moving slowing, with its blue forked-tongue constantly sticking in
and out to taste the air

Soon he was crawling towards an abandoned sack on the mangrove ground. It was then we realised where the smell was coming from – the sack must had contained fish, which after exposure under the blazing sun, had decomposed. The rotten and fishy terrible smell was especially bad when the wind blew towards our direction. Yet one man’s rubbish is clearly another’s delicacy. The Water Moniter Lizard is known to scavenge, and rotten fish simply smells like heaven to them…

The big reptile crawling towards the sack…he couldn’t wait to lay his
claws on the bag of goodies

His claws were so strong that he only took seconds to rip open the sack, revealing the content…and boy, the smell was offensive! We gotta cover our noses to go nearer…

The lizard with his lunch…Wonder where did the sack of fish come from?

To be a successful scavenger, you really gotta have a strong stomach…

Maggots had started to grow on the piece of rotten flesh! Gross!

Slurp! See its forked-tongue splitting so wide open! Obviously it was great
delicacy to the lizard!

While this lizard was enjoying his sumptuous meal, three other smaller monitor lizards were also attracted by the pungent smell. Interestingly, they did not make their moves but stayed nearby, seemingly waiting for their turns. I guess they knew they were much smaller and did not wanna risk having a direct clash with the huge one. Itchyfingers were too busy covering our noses, photographing and observing the bigger lizard that we forgot to take a photo of those hungry, anxious, smaller ones…By the time we wanted to photograph them, one was startled by our sudden movement while the other two were quietly gone. Surely they wouldn’t just give up the chance to sample the food? Probably they would be back later when we were gone…The smell of death was getting stronger and unbearable, and we decided we should make our move and let nature take its own course.

He was one such happy contended lizard! :p

Also see related posts:
> The Fourth Tooth
> Of Dragons and Lizards – Mistaken Identities #4
> Changing Colours – Mistaken Identities #2
> Living in Cold Blood – Mistaken Identities #1



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  1. nice………. gross but nice.. its always nice to see the water monitor lizard at sungei buloh. the place is like its playground..

    nice shot of the blue tongue!

    • Thanks for visiting Itchyfingers! 😀

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