It is no secret that I am not a fan of animals. I’m allergic to furry animals, don’t ask me about long hair or short hair, cats vs dogs… I tend not to stick around them long enough to find out the extent of my allergies because I’m also sort of frightened of them. Many people show me pictures of cute puppies or kittens and then are horrified when I don’t even smile. They must think my heart is made of stone (not true… I cry at Dumbledore’s funeral every time I read that chapter).
In any case, I’ve been living with some house geckos. They lounge on the walls and hang about on the ceilings, they hide behind my bamboo wardrobe. Their poop is EVERYWHERE and whilst they can sit still and silent for hours on end, when they call to each other they are LOUD. It is incredible to me that a creature so small can make such a racket. Since I’ve been living with these little lizards, I’ve made it my duty to find out more about them.
In English, we call them geckos, supposedly because this is the sound that they make: “geck ko, geck ko”. In actual fact, the Khmer word for them is even more onomatopoeic – tokke. If you make the “t” sound with your tongue directly behind your front teeth, and then make the most natural vowel sound, it’s kind of like a “tho” sound, and the “kke” is sort of like “kayy”. Put them together and you get “tho kayy, tho tho tho tho tho kayy”, which is infinitely more accurate. I’ve also observed their daily habits; they’re nocturnal, so they only make their incessant “tho kayy” noises at night, echoing around the ceiling in my room. I’ve had a look online, and there doesn’t seem to be any reason behind the sound. I thought maybe it was some manner of mating call, but all the research so far points to this being a “social call” between the small reptiles.
Another amphibious creature I’ve been hearing a lot of in the rainy season is the frog. Having a look on the old interwebs, I think they are banded bullfrogs. If you scroll halfway down this Wikipedia page, you can treat yourself to the beautiful (!) sound of these animals. If the “tho tho tho tho kayy” of the tokke aren’t enough to keep you from sleeping, and it’s been raining, you can add the bullfrog choir to the mix. Luckily, I have not seen any bullfrogs in my apartment. Outside, on the steps, even right near my front door, I’ve seen them, but they tend to prefer a wet and muddy environment, so my humble abode is safe. Saying that, I do see them hopping about and caught this series of photos before the little critter leapt away.
The last reptile on my list is a snake. Now, I am not a herpetologist (scientist who studies reptiles and amphibians), but I have attempted to identify the type of this slithering creature. In actual fact, he was very still and wasn’t slithering anywhere or harming anybody at all. Unfortunately, he was chilling out at school, in a corner right next to the classrooms and directly opposite the staffroom, and he had to go. The Security Man, Mr Chan was summoned and after approximately 30 seconds of excitement (including the chance to grab this photo!), Mr Chan arrived with a massive bamboo stick. I thought he was going to coax the snake outside or something similar. Instead he prodded it, it fell to the floor with a flail and he proceeded to beat it to death. In front of the kids! He then picked up the lifeless snake and took it outside where, I presume, he buried it.
So anyway, as I said, I tried to identify the species, and I think it was a banded krait, with black and yellow stripes. More common in Thailand, but can be found across South East Asia and other parts of Asia too. If it was indeed such a snake, then it is a venomous species. A light bite may induce dizziness, vomiting and diarrhoea and abdominal pains. A heavy dose of the venom could cause respiratory failure and death. This one was only a baby at around a metre in length though, so I doubt it would be able to kill. I’ve had mixed reactions from friends around town. What do you think, was it right to kill the snake?