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Koh Phangan Hotel

Traveller's Myth:
Lizard Life

There are many varieties of lizards on Koh phangan and people often get them confused. Everyone's favourite is the gecko. In Thai it is called the "jinkjok". This is the small whitish lizard found everywhere. Most commonly clustered around lights eating bugs, they are territorial little creatures and can often be seen threatening each other by swinging the tail or even fighting. Sometimes one will fall off the wall after being in a particularly brutal fight. These little reptiles stick to the walls with feet like little suction cups.

A near relative, the much larger "touke", is also seen clinging to walls. This lizard is much larger, about 15-20 cm, has a head larger than its body, and is very colorful. A dark body with blue and white spots, it can often be heard at night. The Thai call it a "touke" because they believe that is the sound it makes as it calls out. For such a small creature it can be loud. It works on the same principle as a bullfrog: by filling its throat cavity with a lot of air, it can reach quite a volume. Local people often count the number of times the lizard calls out it's name. Six times is supposed to be lucky.

One of the local legends associated with this little lizard "tupké", which means "old liver". It is believed that when this lizard gets old its liver starts to fail. A small snake comes, enters the lizard's mouth and eats its old liver. The "touké" then grows a new liver and lives on.

Another lizard on the island is the monitor lizard. A very large lizard, up to a meter long, it inhabits swampy areas and eats grubs and other insects. Although it is generally considered harmless, its claws are still pretty long and it is thought best to keep a safe distance.

Keep a sharp eye out and you will see these as well as many other reptiles, birds, and other forms of wildlife on Koh phangan.

written by Shana Kongman



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