We spent about 18 months living in Bali, Indonesia. Even after all of our travels through Southeast Asia, nothing could have prepared us for what it was like to live on a daily basis with the animals of Bali. I already wrote a post about living with the bugs in Bali, and this post goes hand-in-hand with that one. It’s important for travelers to Bali island to know what to expect when traveling around the island.
Is Bali Dangerous?
Let’s start with the question that is always on peoples’ minds, is Bali dangerous? In this post, we will only talk about the animals in Bali, not any other security issue. Bali facts are changing all the time, so here it’s only possible to talk about the Bali animals rather than any other dangers of Bali.
When it comes to Bali wildlife, there are no tigers or bears or crocodiles in Bali. There are elephants in a “sanctuary” but certainly none running wild. There really aren’t a lot of dangerous animals in Bali. The Bali geography, though, because it is a tropical island, means there may be some less than savory animals.
The Bali native animals mostly include tropical animals, domesticated animals, and farm animals, not necessarily in that order. Each morning, we woke to the sounds of the roosters in our neighborhood, or banjar in Balinese. The roosters would crow, mixed with the sounds of Balinese dogs, and during the rice harvest, ducks quacking. You can ride your motorbike or a bicycle down the street and have all three of these animals cross your path.
For more Bali travel tips check out our post on Whether Bali is Worth Traveling To
Bali Dogs and Cats
Dogs are everywhere. A Balinese taxi driver told me during one of our earlier visits that there are so many Bali dogs because Bali is a Hindu island surrounded by a thousand Muslim islands. He informed me that Muslims don’t like dogs, so the Balinese use the dogs as protection. I am not judging, it’s just how the Bali religion was explained to me.
Some of the dogs are a little mangy, and some are simply adorable. There are a few nonprofits that work on keeping the dogs healthy, such as the aptly named BARC, a Bali dog rescue. There aren’t many cats, but occasionally we would see some of the rice fields. One once walked into our villa, through the front yard, hung out for a while, and walked out. There were also a few skinny black and white cats living at the Yoga Barn, where we practiced yoga. I loved seeing them before or after a class.
Pro Tip on the Animals in Bali: One thing to note, if there are any dangerous animals in Bali, it could be the Balinese dogs. Yes, some are adorable. Many are street dogs, though, and can carry diseases. If you do not know the owner of the dog, just beware.
Other Animals in Bali
We lived in two different villas during the time we lived in Bali. Between the two villas, and our time generally exploring Bali, we ran into all sorts of Bali animals. We had little frogs that hung out in the greenery surrounding our pool. They hung out on our front step, and often in the driveway. We could hear them chirping and ribbiting in the early evenings. Eric, the novice motorbike driver, is left trying to maneuver around the frogs on the driveway.
The same happened with a large snail one night at the top of the driveway. A couple of weeks later a giant snail was just outside our door. I wondered if it was a second snail, or was this the same one on the driveway, and it just took him that many days to make his way to our door. It’s a decent length walk.
And, I have not even mentioned the monkeys yet. There have to be monkeys in Ubud, after all there is a Monkey Forest Sanctuary and Monkey Forest Road. We never had monkeys at our villas, though, the Monkey forest is too far away.
Pro Tip on the Animals in Bali: Be wary of the monkeys at the temples. They’ve become so accustomed to travelers, and to tourists feeding them. They can get a little aggressive. I’ve seen or known of, monkey stelling glasses, bags, water bottles, and more.
Bali reptiles are pretty common. Most of the snakes in Bali are harmless, like garden snakes. There is one snake to avoid at all costs. It’s a bright green tree viper. It’s sort of small, but bright, almost fluorescent green. If you see that snake run away. Seriously. We learned from our gardner, Pak Mejo, quickly to avoid the green tree viper at all costs. The good thing is that your chances of seeing one are pretty slim. We maybe had 3 or 4 run-ins with this particular Bali reptile. I also had a major run-in with a Bali snake on my motorbike, but that is a story for a different day.
Geckos in Bali (And Other Bali Lizards)
Like any tropical area, it’s not uncommon to see all sorts of different Bali gecko varieties. Geckos are small lizards that scurry around on the ground or up the walls. They are more like a common house gecko. It’s almost guaranteed you will come across these types of geckos on an Indonesia tour.
They are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they eat the Bali bugs, which is a good thing. I love all of the Balinese gecko varieties because not only do they eat the bugs that annoy me the most, but they are just fun. They are fun to watch. We spent many nights out, drinking a cold Bintang beer watching the Bali geckos scatter around.
There are two relatively unique types of gecko in Bali. One might not be characterized fully as a gecko. The skink is a small lizard, that always looks wet, but doesn’t make a gecko sound. It’s mostly brown with a yellowish color in the center of the body. They are not dangerous. But, like true geckos, they are fun to watch slide across a floor. We never had many skinks visit our villa, but they were always at the yoga studio we frequented. I would be working on my chatarungas and a slimy little lizard would walk on by. Just like any other day living in Bali with fun Bali lizards.
The other unique gecko is one I would even describe as a cute gecko. It’s the tokay lizard, and it was such a big part of our time living in Bali. It’s not guaranteed that you will see a tokay gecko during an Indonesia trip, but if you do, it’s pretty cool.
The Tokay Gecko Bali
Some people might describe the tokay as a “large gecko” or a “giant gecko.” Yes, it is larger than a normal gecko, but still pretty small when compared to larger lizards like the Komodo dragon, a neighboring Indonesian lizard.
We first learned about the tokay Bali geckos when we lived in our first Bali villa. We started to hear some unique gecko sounds at night, just after dark, right outside our bedroom door, on the balcony. In the morning, we would find gecko poop outside our door. We were used to living with geckos as part of everyday life, just part of living with Bali animals and Bali bugs. But the tokay gecko sounds are totally different.
The tokay gecko is also way cooler looking than other Bali geckos. He is almost a green-blue gecko with bright orange spots on his gecko skin. Yeah, definitely one of the coolest of the Balinese animals. The tokay gecko sound also has to be one of the most recognizable Bali lizard sound. The tokay Bali gecko sound only comes out at night, generally around dusk. It’s a higher pitched noise, in two syllables, like a “wah-wah.”
Interesting Tokay Gecko Facts and Balinese Folklore
It’s possible to find tokay geckos in other tropical climates, but they might not come with the Balinese folklore that the tokay gecko Bali does. Apparently, they are territorial. At our first villa, we had two living outside our door. They felt like our new guard dogs. They were there almost every night, after dark. I swear they would smile at us when we tried to take photos of them before the scattered off. We had three tokay geckos living “with” us at our second villa. We named the first two George and Daisy after our friends’ dogs. When we found the third, we named him Clyde. We had no idea whether they were male or female Tokay geckos, just that one was smaller than the others.
Our Balinese friend, Komang, told us that these Bali geckos bring good luck. When one was in a villa near ours, a guest cursed and yelled at the gecko, chasing it out. The following morning, the guest fell down the villa stairs. Don’t cross the tokay Bali gecko.
This is why we became so friendly with these particular lizards in Bali. At one point we even had a baby tokay gecko in our house, but he didn’t seem to last very long. When a tokay managed to make its way into our bedroom at night, we gently encouraged him to wait outside for us until the morning. Seriously, it was like having a pet. And, it was our favorite of the Bali animals. Keep your eyes, and ears, open for them.
Pro Tip on the Animals in Bali: Don’t antagonize the tokay geckos. You don’t want the Bali folklore to work against you!
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.