Monstrous monitor lizards crawl into Bangkok sewage pipe, need a push!

FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2024

Two monstrous monitor lizards were recently seen crawling into a sewage pipe in Bangkok, stirring dread and fear but also creating a sense of awe at the fascinating creepy crawlies that lie beneath Thailand’s sprawling capital.

In a video that first appeared on TikTok on May 27, two Asian water monitor lizards – each measuring over 1.5m in length – could be seen trying to claw their way into a drainage tunnel that strides a waterway.

One already had half its body into the pipe as water gushed out around it, while the other one patiently waited for its turn.

The video, originally taken by TikTok user Mylittledaisayyy, had been seen over 4 million times when it was reposted by musician Darrell Craig Harris as a Facebook reel on June 12.

It naturally set off some well-placed toilet humour.

“This is why you look before you sit down,” Ryan Suto, in Memphis, Tennessee, said in a Facebook post.

One TikTok commenter said: “Ow, that’s why my toilet was stuck.”

Others were rooting for the lizards.

“Determination. Love it,” said Ms Maria Sarantopoulos-Harp, in New York.

Juan Maldonado, in Portland, just found humour in how the sight reminded him of life’s daily struggles.

“The one in the back is going, ‘Honey, I told you we need to stop and ask for directions’,” he said in a Facebook post.

The sight of two huge Asian monitor lizards crawling into a sewage tunnel is not as bizarre as it seems, as these reptiles are known to now be regular fixtures of Bangkok’s subterranean world.

They hunt rats, snakes and frogs, as well as food scraps, in the city’s maze of underground tunnels and sewage pipes

Gittipong Vray, a photographer, recorded one prowling a sewage tunnel in 2022.

“I see this monitor lizard almost every day,” he said in a video he posted on YouTube.

“Sometimes, it will even sunbathe on the sidewalk, but most of the time it just moves around in the drain.”

A video clip from TikTok user Mylittledaisayyy captures two large monitor lizards attempting to squeeze into a drainage pipe in a canal in Bangkok. The sight has amused social media users, with some jokingly suggesting this might be the reason for clogged drains in the city. 

A tourist filmed another one in 2015 outside a temple in Bangkok but mistook it for a Komodo dragon, which is endemic to some Indonesian islands.

Gittipong said those living in the neighbourhood told him these lizards were known to “rove in packs”, looking for rats.

Asian monitor lizards are native to South and Southeast Asia, and at 1.5m to 2m in length are second only in size to the Komodo dragon.

The monitor lizards have extremely muscular builds, powerful tails, sharp claws, and jaws with serrated teeth and glands that secrete venom. But, unless pursued or cornered, they pose no threat to humans.

These reptiles usually inhabit lakes, rivers, ponds and swamps but – with cities encroaching into their natural habitats – have lately expanded their range into sewers and other urban waterways.


Occasionally, they would climb out of their tunnels and wander into public spaces and even inside homes

In Singapore, smaller species of monitor lizards have been seen in HDB walkways, coffee shops, lifts, outside malls and even under a train.

“They are naturally shy and would rather stay away from humans,” the National Parks Board says in its advisory about local wildlife on its website.

“Like most wild animals, they do not attack unless provoked,” it said. “As long as you keep your distance and leave them alone, you will be fine.”

Raul Dancel

The Straits Times

Asia News Network