Two more chicks have met their doom since last I wrote. Both were mauled by biawak attacks that I fended off too late. By the time I would race to the scene, shovel flailing, I could only succeed in denying the perp a meal, but could not save the lives of the victims. The first time, a chick was dismasted cleanly at the knee-joint. Though the bleeding stopped quickly, a legless chicken’s prospects are bleak: despite my ministrations, it was dead within three days. The second time, the attack was more severe and the chick was clearly without a future. I chose duty over sentiment and put it out of its misery myself.

Behold, the BiawakWith one chick left, not the best specimen of the bunch either, I’m left to wonder. Maybe I’m keeping the wrong pets. Nobody likes a loser, and these chickens are clearly losers. Now, the biawak is a fine animal. Just look at him. Sleek, muscular, long purple tongue, interesting scales. It’s true you can’t exactly pet a biawak, but hey, he already lives in the cracks of the foundation beneath my house. I’m already furnishing him with meals. Why don’t I just adopt him and give him a name? Instead of throwing leftover rice to the chicks, I can throw leftover fried chicken to the biawak! How about, “Brutus the Biawak”? Or maybe, “Lazarus the Lizard”? Or perhaps, “Chester the Chicken-Slayer”?

I kid. But these biawaks are some wild customers. A type of monitor lizard related to the fearsome Komodo Dragon of Indonesia, they can grow to large size. You can read about some of my previous encounters with giant biawaks on my property before. Yeah, you got it: Big Lizard in My Backyard. They can survive in urban envrionments by living under people’s houses and using the monsoon drains and open canals for highways. They’ll often sun themselves on the concrete edge of the drain, ready to dive into the sewer water if anyone approaches. They’re a top level predator – as a far as I know, nothing hunts biawaks.

Nothing that is, except people. Non-muslims in Malaysia will dine on biawak, and I’ve even seen them being sold live in a vegetable market in Perak. I’ve heard described by eyewitnesses how they are skinned.

Delicate readers should stop reading now.

The animal is restrained by the head and feet. Then, the skin is carefully cut down the middle of the back and the legs and peeled open from the top. At that point, the butcher will startle the lizard by clapping his hands in front of its face, and the lizard will literally jump out of its own skin. You heard it here first. When I first heard that described, I felt sorry for the lizard. Now that biawaks have been decimating my chickens, let’s just say I’m far less sympathetic.

To my regular readers: So sorry for the downtime! My domain registration expired without notice and it took a bit of doing to get it restored. BGP is not going anywhere and I will now return to my once-every-once-in-a-great-while posting schedule!

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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  1. oh wow..a very graphic detail about biawak.

    when you have time, please share with us about your little children and the new baby in the house šŸ˜‰

  2. Dear binGregory,

    So sorry about your chickens. I supposed a pet biawak would be the closest one gets to a pet dinosaur.

    Some weeks ago I went to an a birthday party where the host kept free range chickens. The chicken roamed behind electrified wire fence, in an area of about 15 meters in diameter. Being in the Somerset countryside, the usual predators were there – foxes, dogs, cats. The voltage was low enough not to harm his toddlers but high enough to give an unsuspecting Labrador a jolt on the muzzle. His chickens learnt to stay well away from the fence too.

    Thinking of re-stocking?

  3. I haven’t given up the chickens yet, but I think I will wait to replenish the flock until I’ve build a proper perimeter fence around my property, and/or repairing my house to eliminate the lizard-friendly crawlspace underneath my foundation. In the meantime, Romeo the Rooster is still doing well, and the surviving (for now) chick looks like a hen, so I might still be in business after all.

    About the electric fence, my father uses something similar for his sheep. At the voltage he needs to discourage the sheep and their predators, an adult wouldn’t want to touch it, much less a toddler… What I’d like to get is a wicker/rattan-type cover to keep the chickens in. My wife calls it a “cekap” and claims they exist but I’ve yet to find one in the market.

  4. Very interesting and well written. Sorry you lost your chickens. Our chickens are getting lice from sparrows who come in the coop to eat their grain. Your father has taken up killing the sparrows with a badminton racket. He keeps it hanging in the coop. When he visits the coop, he first closes the chicken door, then quickly steps inside the coop and starts swinging. The sparrows don’t have a chance. He has gotten more than 20 this way.

  5. Salam Gregory!

    If you find the “cekap” let me know. I’m about to start keeping a few turkeys and there’s at least two biawak’s hanging around my house, so need to figure out a way to prevent turkey death…

  6. Gobblers! That’s awesome. I didn’t even realize you could raise them here. I never did find that cekap, and so all my chickens are kept cooped up all the time. The plan now is to build a chicken run attached to the coop, one of these days.

  7. Yeah, turkeys are available here for RM120p per. They’re bit small, maybe twice the size of a chicken, and have nice sounding voices.. no gobbling! I was going to build a turkey coop, but my wife shot down that idea… we really don’t have enough space…. so I’m looking for some land to turn into a farm/petting zoo…

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