Bali: Cats, dogs, chickens etc

Cats + Dogs

As I said in my previous post about the greenery in this part of the world, Bali appears to have water in abundance. And where there is water, there is life. And where there is life, there are usually humans. And where there are humans, there are dogs. And so forth.

Checking out the drain, momentarily distracted from chasing chickens
I had always been worried about my first encounters with dogs in Bali, because I remember learning in school that Balinese Hindus believed that dogs were reincarnations of people who were bad in their past lives, and so they didn't look after them very well. A related tradition is the way Balinese file down their canine teeth, because those teeth symbolise animal nature, and filing them represents the shedding of the six human evils (desire, greed, anger, intoxication,confusion, jealousy). I had heard stories of abused, rabid dogs wandering the streets with open wounds and even (wait for it) maggots crawling about.

Guarding the temple
So you can imagine how relieved I have been thus far in my travels to Bali by not having all my childhood nightmares of neglected animals come to fruition. I must point out though that I have already seen some pretty badly treated, skinny, flighty, unhappy horses stabled in a western hotel, and pet monkeys and large birds in small cages, so I'm a fair way from suggesting that Bali is in the clear as far as animal rights go. But I was happy to see that most of the dogs in our village appeared to have collars, and homes, and owners. (Note: There is a charity called the Bali Animal Welfare Association, that I'm going to find out more about because in particular, I'd like to talk to someone about those horses. They take donations and try to educate locals to improve animal welfare, and reduce the number of strays.)

Although they were skinny, the cats also looked a hell of a lot happier than the mangey, fleabitten, stumpy tailed strays I saw running rampant in Malaysia a few years ago. I think you have to be a bit skinny to survive in that heat actually. If my cat was in Bali she would die of heat exhaustion and heart failure. She's just too fat for that climate. (Yes, I had to add 'for that climate'.)

Dogs chillin'
Anyway, animals in Bali are tough. They're scavengers. Survivors. They hang about in motley little gangs on street corners like lost kids and you wonder whether, if they could muster the energy and then if they could work out some way to dispose of the spoils, they would pick your pockets.

Cat that implanted itself underneath the dining counter at a little warung in Sukawati. He had obviously been practicing those big beady Oliver Twist eyes. 

None of the dogs were particularly vicious, with humans anyway, particularly tourists. They might tail you along the footpath for a bit, barking loudly. Or, perched awkwardly on a step, lunging haphazardly at their ear with their skinny back leg trying to relieve an itch, they might shoot you a dodgy sideways glance. Perhaps they suspect that tourism is a main reason that there is any food in the dog bowl.

Boy do they have attitude though, and a sense of entitlement. And I dont know if it was the heat, but these animals just drop themselves wherever they please for a nap. Nevermind noise, traffic, customers.

See for yourself:
Cute cat looking pretty pleased with herself on a restaurant chair
Dog. Middle of main street. Sleeping.


So I know my theory surrounding the abundances in Bali stemming solely from water is tenuous and based on a scientific-like hunch (that is a real thing, trust me I am an ex lawyer, sort of). But water does seem to have an influence on making living things in Bali grow BIGGER.

Check out these larger than normal animals. And I didn't even get a good photo of the bees, but trust me, they were GINORMOUS, sort of like large christmas beetles, but big and hairy. And mostly black, which I thought was a weird wardrobe choice in the heat. Nice one God. Or whatever.


Largeish frog, and its NOT a Cane Toad...check out that springy 'grass on steroids'. Huge!

This is a massive butterfly coccoon. It may not look it but its a few inches long and almost an inch wide. Their winged rainbow raptors make our butterflies look like little five cent tissue paper fairies. Whatever they are. Pfft.

This is a cricket. Or a grass hopper. More like grass TERMINATOR. It was quite large too but it scared me with its big hard lime coloured madonna muscle fitness legs so I couldn't get a picture of it next to anything meaningful. Sorry.


Ok. Now onto birds. Birds are amazing. Partly because they can fly, yes. But also because they have feathers. Have you ever thought how much more sophisticated feathers are to our pathetic little human hair follicles? Indeed. Feathers are (a) sophisticated, pretty and sometimes colourful (b) symmetrical (c) lightweight, aerodynamic, and water resistent (I think...).

No wonder they can fly! Whoever is monitoring the entry gates to the sky obviously just ushers them through based on how rad feathers are, I'm sure of it. Otherwise there's no way Pelicans would get up there. Too heavy. Also explains why emu's can't fly. Their feathers can be kinda fluffy and a bit mangey. Not really proper feathers.

Way off topic. I'm talking Bali. I'm talking birds.

Most birds I saw were either free roaming farm chickens with attitude (providing eggs, or wakeup calls, depending on their gender) or really amazing beautiful birds...kept in cages, which was a bit sad. But I was assured by the people who manage the Antonio Blanco art museum (which had an extensive collection of birds kept in cages at night), that many of the birds were old, and used to fly free, but things in Ubud have become too dangerous - lots of traffic, pollution, rubbish in the waterways, junk food they will eat. I kind of understand. I can't imagine those big magestic birds lasting too long around here. Gee. We humans are really ruining a lot of things. Still, it felt pretty amazing having those birds perch on my arm. They are HEAVY! (See, water, big-ness).

Rooster in the ricefields. With cool spotty pantaloon legs!
Me. Dork. At Antonio Blanco museum. With 3 large birds eyeing off my beads. And tourist frangipanns put in my hair while my arms were otherwise engaged to go with my tourist shorts and general look of tourist exhaustion. 
Still eyeing off the beads
A caged pair of big red buddies - latin name. They looked healthy, but bored. Really bored.

So that's it for animals. There weren't many birds in the sky. Maybe its too polluted. Maybe its too hot to fly during the day. We did hear heaps of birds at dawn and dusk, swallow type things, and saw them shooting around treetops near rice paddies, probably jetting in and out of the paddies to eat bugs. There were heaps of ducks in the rice fields too, but you could hear them more than see them. I avoided the monkey forest this time because their humanness kind of freaked me out last time, particularly the babies - their little ET fingers - aaah! And thankfully I didn't see any elephants, because I've heard nothing but bad stories about that. But then I guess you really need to see these things for yourself. I really shouldn't preempt such things.

Note: If you would like to check out this thread of Bali posts from the beginning, click here.

Extra note: Please be advised that much of the content in this post which purports to have scientific or evidentiary backing, doesn't really. Particularly the bits about feathers. I did biology, but that was a long time ago.