Spot crocs (don't get too close), watch otters and look for pangolins: we've been finding out where the weirdest and wildest residents of Singapore live…
Although Singapore may feel all skyscrapers and concrete at times – especially when the kids are demanding you bring them to a farm ‘right now’ – we still have plenty of pretty parks and green patches alongside our urban jungle. And with that glorious green comes glorious wildlife! We’re not talking run-of-the-mill shrews and squirrels here: pangolins, otters and crocs; we’re looking at you! We’ve been donning our wellies and taking a hike around Singapore to find the spots around the island where you may just find our weird and wonderful wildlife neighbours, with not a ticket queue or gift shop in sight. Here’s some wildlife in Singapore you can expect to see on your next day out!
The best of Singapore wildlife: where you can spot wildlife in Singapore
1. Oriental Pied Hornbills, Eurasian Golden Orioles and more
Love bird watching? Get those wellies on, have your binoculars at the ready and brace yourselves for a good spot of our feathery friends! The good news is there is no shortage of birds across our island. All you need to do is visit the gorgeous parks across the mainlands, or forested areas at islands off Singapore to spot some exotic visitors basking in the glory of the tropics. Think birds like Oriental pied hornbills, Eurasian golden orioles, owls, parrots and many more. Looking to cheat-meet a wider range of winged buddies without having to survey the lands far and wide? Hot wing it with the fledglings to the newly opened ‘Bird Paradise’ to check out the stunning residents in one spot. Psst…our feathery friends sometimes visit urban areas too to find and feed on fruit.
2. Tortoise and Turtle
These delightful little shelled creatures are a common sighting across the island, and the good news is you won’t have to venture very far either. If you haven’t spotted one yet, chances are you will get a glimpse of them swimming alongside Koi fish at ponds and lakes. If exploring the wild side of things floats your boat, endangered sea turtles like the green turtle and hawksbill turtle have been spotted around the Southern islands of Singapore. Did we mention there are even turtle nests and hatching sites at the Marine Park, Small Sister’s Islands?
3. Malayan Colugo
Commonly known as the Flying Lemur, the Malayan Colugo is a nocturnal animal often spotted at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. If you spot a shy and long animal with slender limbs gliding between trees, chances are you’ve made your first Malayan Colugo sighting!
Known as sea cows – but ironically more likely to be found in Singapore than actual cows – dugongs (pictured above) are the gentle giants of the ocean. They can be spotted wallowing in the waters around the Northeast of Singapore, Changi, Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong.
Otters are undeniably cute. A sighting of these adorable creatures is sure to make anyone’s day. These guys are getting easier and easier to sight (we’ve even had them make an appearance near our home!) and can often be seen playing around the Marina Bay and Robertson Quay areas. Other good places for otter spotting include Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, Pulau Ubin, Serangoon, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Punggol. The kids will want to get close and hug them… but don’t. It’s easy to be fooled by their cute appearance. However, otters are wild and have very sharp teeth, so be careful.
6. Wild boars
Wild boars are native to Singapore and can grow up to a whopping 100kg – so don’t get in their way! They are easy to find on a day trip to Pulau Ubin or on a family hike around Macritchie Reservoir.
These crafty fellas have totally got the measure of us human folk and have sussed out that when there are people about, there is often food, too. Unfortunately, this means they can spot a carrier bag from the top of the highest tree! You’ll find them in all the forested areas around Singapore, and they can often be seen in residential areas these days too. Pulau Ubin is a guaranteed spotting zone, and exactly where we stumbled across a cheeky family eating pineapple that clearly didn’t belong to them. We’ve also seen them around the country clubs at Bukit Timah, MacRitchie Reservoir and along the Southern Ridges walk.
Not a cuddly kind of creature, although certainly an adorable one. Porcupines were once feared to be extinct in Singapore but have been spotted alive and well over at Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. They’re way more prickly than even the grumpiest of kids: stand back if you find one!
9. Civet cat
The word ‘cat’ is a bit misleading – these furry cuties are actually closely related to mongooses (or is it mongeese?). The common palm civet is the most likely kind of civet you’ll spot around Singapore. Look for them in forests, parks, mangroves and even your back garden. Psst: they’re not averse to a nighttime rummage around urban areas! You’ll find them all over Singapore. Just don’t forget to look up: they love to lurk in the trees.
You may think you’ve stumbled across proof of alien life, but the truly odd-looking pangolin is really a shy, nocturnal mammal. It’s covered in entirely earthly scales… made of compressed hair! Occasionally they wander into residential areas, but mostly you can spot them around the forested areas of Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Bukit Batok, or on an island-hopping day trip to Pulau Ubin or Pulau Tekong.
Are you as surprised as we are? Yup, wild dolphins live off the shores of our tiny island. In particular, Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins and Indo-Pacific bottle dolphins are often spotted wild and happy in the Straits of Singapore, usually between here and Batam.
12. Estuarine Crocodile
Crocs in Singapore, you say? (No, we’re not talking about the rubber sandals that kids love to wear.) But there’s no need to run for the hills just yet – just stay away from suspicious moving logs in the water areas around Sungei Buloh, Kranji Reservoir and West Coast and Pasir Ris Park! There’s a croc-spotting viewing spot at Sungei Buloh, which makes a great place to try and catch a glimpse (without getting close to any snapping jaws!).
Is it a mouse, or is it a deer? Either way, you can try and catch a rare sighting of these secretive little creatures around Pulau Ubin, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, MacRitchie Reservoir and Central Catchment Nature Reserve. If all else fails, you can cheat and go to Mandai Wildlife Reserve. #notquitethesamethough
Now go spot something cool, and don’t forget to send us your photos!