Battle of the Reptiles – Green Crested Lizard vs Oriental Whip Snake

Working in a natural environment is a totally different experience than a typical office job. Besides having the privilege of savoring tasty herbal drinks and listening to the beautiful wildlife orchestra every day, we also stand a higher chance of observing and witnessing some of the greatest nature findings in the garden (think Nat Geo)!

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Spread across 8 acres of the secondary forest, Tropical Spice Garden is a natural tropical habitat to more than 500 varieties of flora and fauna, ranging from native trees to sub-tropical plants, and creepy crawlies to mammals. Therefore when luck strikes, it is no surprise that you may encounter a Malayan water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) swimming in the water garden, a yellow-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) feeding on a praying mantis, or a colony of giant forest ants (Camponotus Gigas) making their way back to their nest.

One sunny afternoon when everyone is off for lunch, something happened in front of the garden’s pantry that grabbed everyone’s attention.

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A live “Urban Jungle” show was happening in front of our eyes – an Oriental whip snake (Ahaetulla prasina) was attempting to consume a green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella)! Being the naturalists that we are, we started to observe and document the behavioral and physical changes of the two species. The initial thought was: “The slim, slender snake will have a hard time swallowing the bigger and stronger lizard. Surely it’ll eventually give up…” To our astonishment, instead of giving up, the snake took almost an hour to finish a large and surely satisfying meal.

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During the first 20 minutes, the snake maintained a firm grip on the lizard’s neck, which was very much still alive and struggling to escape.

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Within half an hour, the lizard’s head was already halfway in the snake’s mouth with its legs still twitching! Soon, some small black ants started to gather around both reptiles. Despite the distraction of the ants crawling over both reptiles, the snake continued its mammoth task of a meal. As time goes by we realized that the lizard wasn’t moving anymore, which we concluded that it might already be dead at that point.

 

At the 45 minute mark, there was a dramatic change in the situation. The snake started to utilise its powerful muscles – expanding its jaws to accommodate the size of the lizard, we noticed a pale banding on the throat becoming more apparent. This banding pattern is only noticeable when a whip snake is feeding or feeling threatened.

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Lastly, when 95% of the lizard was swallowed, the whip snake looking quite proud of itself gradually moved away from the limelight of our keen observations.

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The Oriental whip snake is one of the common tree snakes that can be found in secondary forests, residential and agricultural areas throughout Southeast Asia. It is mildly venomous towards its prey – insects and small vertebrates – which it actively seeks out as it glides from tree to tree.

 

A common sight in Tropical Spice Garden, the green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) also has a widespread distribution in primary and secondary tropical forests.

Garden to Kitchen : a hands-on gardening workshop

Garden to Kitchen Workshop

A hands-on gardening workshop to promote indoor gardening.

Using a selection of popular herbs and spices, you will learn from Daniel Ng, also known as Mr. Ang the proper gardening techniques to grow seeds and cuttings.

~*Did you know, Ang was the head gardener for Penang Botanical Gardens for 38 years?!*~

Not only you will be able to bring home the materials from the workshop, grab this opportunity to receive a 15% discount off seedboxes available at our Gift Shop to kickstart your kitchen garden!

Now anyone can have a green thumb 😉

**LIMITED SPACES AVAILABLE**
Quickly register now to secure your spot!


Enquiries & Bookings:

E: education@tropicalspicegarden.com

T: +604 8811 797  |  +6012 4988 797

FB Event Page: Garden to Kitchen

2D1N Garden Crafters Kids Camp!

Kids Overnight Camp-June

Introducing to you.. The GARDEN CRAFTERS 2D1N Kids Camp!

This is the third overnight camp that will be organised by the Nature Education team of TSG and we love to bring the kids back to nature!

To be held on 6th – 7th June 2015, the camp aims to combine the elements of arts with gardening by making customised planter posts from recycled materials, and of course other activities including overnight in the camp that they will need to set up by their own, picnic by the beach and also night walk session in a complete different-from-daytime garden.

Come join us in exploring the natural textures and colours of the rainforest and enjoy getting your hands dirty while bringing out the creativity within you!

*Early bird registration closes 24th May 2015. Grab the deal!

For enquiries please contact:

Jocelyn

+604 8811 797/ +6012 4988797

education@tropicalspicegarden.com

A Fun-tastic Day with the Kids- Im A Junior Naturalist TOO

I’m a Junior Naturalist Too!

The fun of being a naturalist is learning all you can about the natural world! We believe that Nature Education is the key foundation for children to learn about their nature surrounding, appreciate wildlife & plants, and understand the importance of conserving & protecting our tropical nature environment.

“I’m a Junior Naturalist” is a 1-day outdoor programme happening in the Tropical Spice Garden. The first Junior Naturalist was conducted on Dec 2014, which lots of joys of laughter, photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.703244633027272.1073741875.158661167485624&type=3

This year, “I’m a Junior Naturalist TOO!” on the 21st March 2015, was a success! Special thanks to the facilitators – Joleen, Jocelyn, Paul & Ms Hor (volunteer) for making the event a memorable one for the kids and us! Hereby we summarise the activities from that day.

Started off in the morning with a briefing & ice-breaking game session. Guess what we played? The fun Garden Musical Chair Game!

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Briefing session with the little ones

 

Playing games by the water garden gave the children a fresh nature environment to warm up. Everyone was having a great time through self-introduction & grouping session. Not forget to mention the “Koel” bird call! *inside joke*

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Who didn’t get to sit will need to introduce themselves!

 

The first naturalist activity of the day was the Nature Explorer! The 3 groups were ordered to complete a 4-mission task which required them to observe & record the spices & herbs along the spice terraces, search for the coins hidden around trees, teaching foreign guests to read Malay paragraph, and a nature scavenger game!

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Memorising the names of the spices and come back to write it down

 

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Angeline in action

After the fun Nature Explorer, we had a quick snack time then headed up to the secondary forest behind the Beverages of the World terrace. The children were told to stay close with each other, to respect the forest by not plucking any plants unless we permit so, and many more.

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Into the woods

 

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The ferns are as tall as them. Adventurous!

 

The kids learnt about some secondary forest plants, such as the Resam fern, Club Moss, Tiup-tiup tree, Red barked Tree and many more. We also spent some quality at the water catchment area up on the hill, looking at the natural water flow system, and observing Nepenthes Pitcher plants. Regardless the complaints on how tough were the trails and the annoying tall bushy ferns, we enjoyed each other’s accompany so much that the kids learnt the way of teamwork in forest.

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The boys leading the way

 

After lunch we had the most enthralling activity of the day – The Naturalist Quest. Kids were required to venture around the garden, observe and record the nature observation around them. All of them were truly naturalists as they make use of the “nature tables”, weren’t mind to get dirty by lying down on the ground to write down their observations. We were all amazed by these little naturalist’s performances.

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By the turtle pond

 

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This booklet will remind them of their childhood memory when they are all grown up

 

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Kai Jie in action

 

Before proceeding to the Water Fun activity down the stream along the Heart of the Garden, we had a post-naturalist briefing time together, discussed on individual’s findings and their thoughts on nature.

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Girls power!

 

The little researchers were looking for guppies & water striders.

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Kids love water and getting wet and all muddy! After changing, we all gathered around the water garden for the graduation ceremony which we distributed the certificates & prizes to the kids.

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Group photo before we end the day!

 

Overall, we were all very happy for “I’m a Junior Naturalist TOO”, especially after receiving the feedbacks from the parents! Check out our Facebook album for more photos of the camp: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.953025028049230.1073741906.158661167485624&type=3

We are currently planning on our next overnight camp in June 2015. Meanwhile, we are running various half day programmes for kids age 6-12 too! If you are interested, feel free to contact us for more details!

 

Nature Education Department

04-8811797 (Ext 311)

education@tropicalspicegarden.com

Birds & Nests – Signs of Spring

The past 3 months was spring time in Penang!

Most of the flowering plants in the garden were blooming, and we also managed to observe two different bird nests by the water garden!

Yellow Vented Bulbul's Nest

Yellow-vented Bulbul’s Nest

We first observed the nest on Feb 23th when we noticed a couple of adult Yellow-vented Bulbuls (Pycnonotus goiavier) flying around the shrubbery by the water garden. There were two hatchlings in the nest, which grew rapidly as days passed. When we first saw them their eyes were closed, very tiny and featherless. It was difficult to see them clearly even from half a metre away due to the thick shrub, but then again, we didn’t want to get too close and agitate the parents.

Approaching March, they developed their primary wing feathers. With their big wide eyes, they started to test their wings by fluttering them rapidly while perching at the edge of the nest.The parents of the juveniles were nearby the nesting site all the time, making sure their precious were well fed & groomed. It took 9 days for these two juvenile yellow-vented bulbuls to fledge. Indeed it was a beautiful experience observing the bulbuls. They are fascinating to watch, and most importantly, family oriented for both the male and female took turns caring for their young.

Olive Backed Sunbird's Nest

Olive-backed Sunbird’s Nest

We were attracted by the not too loud, yet high pitched call by the water garden. Upon investigation, we saw a female adult Olive Backed Sun bird (Cinnyris jugalaris) perching on a branch where its nest was attached to.

Sunbird nests are unique as they are purse/pear-shaped, hanging from a tree branch and constructed using leaves, twigs and sometimes spiderwebs.  This adorable sun bird then flew into her nest and remained calmly in there guarding her babies, unperturbed by our observations. If you would like to have a closer view, try approaching it quietly and slowly and you’ll witness the sweet darling smile of a sunbird. Beautiful day? Go out & explore now, you might find beautiful things around you!

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Yellow-vented Bulbul vs Olive-backed Sunbird

 

Cooking Demo : Thai Inspired Party Food

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Throwing a party at home? Besides from drinks and cocktails, party snacks and finger food is a must!

TSG Cooking School will be hosting a Cooking Demo on Thai inspired party food by our very own in-house cheft- Devi Nadarajan. Learn how to make simple Thai snack dishes like the ‘Pandan’ Chicken, Money Bag, Green Curry Chicken Cake and for the dessert learn to make Thai Sticky Rice Balls in Coconut Milk!

Date: 28th March 2015

Time: 10.30am – 1pm

Location: Santai Corner, Tropical Spice Garden

Price: RM60 (normal) & RM45 (Spice Friends and partners)

Click here to register for the Cooking Demo.

*Best to register before the 24th of March so that we can prepare the very best for you! 🙂

Do not miss out this opportunity to learn with our passionate chef and to mingle with groups of food enthusiast.
Hosted by: Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School

*Please note that the cooking demo will be conducted in group demonstration form, no individual station.

T: +604 881 1797    M:+60124865795  E: michelle@tropicalspicegarden.com

I’m a Junior Naturalist TOO!

Missed the last “I’m a Junior Naturalist” 2013?

No worries, you can start planning for the upcoming March school holiday’s “I’m a Junior Naturalist TOO”!

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Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth

Nature is the best teacher and greatest classroom for children to learn about their surrounding. Enroll your kids now as they explore the plants and animals around them through their observation & critical thinking skills.

Not forget to mention that the kids will be trekking up to the secondary forest and learn about the native plants, going down to the stream area hunting for guppies and water striders, plus an exciting fun amazing race game in the garden, and many more!

We always believe that Nature Education does not only inspires, but also enhances the creativity & imagination of children.

For more information & registration, contact:
Joleen
04-8811797 Ext. 311
education@tropicalspicegarden.com

 

Click to view photos of I’m A Junior Naturalist, Dec 2013

Sunrise @ TSG 2014

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Sunrise @ TSG is back in conjunction with Penang Island Jazz Festival 2014!
From sunset to sunrise.. This year, TSG will be hosting another round of music festival in our newly constructed Pavilion – a glass box set in the midst of the tropical jungle. Enjoy music from “Ashes & Oak Trees“, “De Leon Jazz Experience” & “Ray Rozells Unplugged” from 7am onwards on 6th December 2014.
Join in the workshop with “Monoswezi” in embracing the values of cross cultural music collaboration after the performance starting at 9.30am.

 

For bookings and enquiries please call the garden or email to marketing@tropicalspicegarden.com 
Tickets are available now so call in and book yours before it’s sold out!

Night Walks : HERPING ft. Evan

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Night Walks @ TSG is getting more and more exciting!

For the upcoming Night Walk, we have a special guest joining us as the guide of the night… Mr Evan Quah!
Evan studies amphibians and reptiles around Malaysia, which we address him as a “Herpetologist” ! (Herpetology-Study of Amphibians and Reptiles). For those who bear the passion towards snakes, frogs, toads, lizards etc… this is the opportunity that you would not want to miss!
Come sign up for the 18th October Night Walk, for a herping session with Evan, which you will gain valuable insights on basic herp identification too! Limited pax available, contact us now!

 

Adult – RM60

Child – RM40 (age 7 to 12)

 

Tel: 04-8811797 (Ext 311)   E-Mail: education@tropicalspicegarden.com