Hong Kong is home to diverse species of local wild mammals, which vary in size, habits and characteristics. Below is a small selection.
Although the Pallas’s Squirrel can be spotted all around Hong Kong, they are not indigenous. It is believed that they have bred from either escaped or released pets. With a small head and a body length of 17-21 cm, this animal’s most noticeable feature is a long and bushy tail. The fur on the back is brown and on the belly it ranges from yellowish brown to orange. The diet of the Pallas’s Squirrel depends upon the season and this versatile eater munches on whichever leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds and nuts are plentiful. Take a moment to spot the squirrel during the Bauhinia flower blooming season (November to March) high atop the lovely branches.
Active during the day, these little guys can be seen in our parks and playgrounds. However, the squirrel likes a quiet and hidden place to rest, so they are difficult to find after dark. They may not be native to Hong Kong, but the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170) keeps them safe in their new home.
The Chinese Pangolin is covered in greyish brown to grey overlapping body scales and has a small pointed head. This animal has a body length of 36.5-49.5 cm and a tail that can add as much as an additional 40 cm. When threatened, this odd looking animal rolls into a ball.
A solitary and nocturnal creature, our Pangolin does not wander far from his home on a forest floor, a grassy hillside or in humid woodlands. Using their long and sensitive snouts to root out a daily diet of termites and ants, their powerful limbs and sharp claws help secure the meal. The Chinese Pangolin has no teeth but instead extends a long sticky tongue to trap the prey.
Although protected here in Hong Kong, the Pangolins living in the mainland are hunted for their meat and a belief that their scales possess medicinal properties.
When you hear a bark in the woods, it just might be the Red Muntjac. This small deer, at 90-110 cm in body-length, is slightly larger than its cousin the Chinese Muntjac and has a distinctive dog-like barking call. The Barking Deer has long and protruding canine teeth, but only the male sports antlers. As an herbivore, this mammal munches on leaves, twigs and various fruits.
In order to spot the Red Muntjac, it is best to look in forests and scrublands on a foggy evening. Except during the breeding season, the animal is solitary and territorial. Muntjacs like to hide in dense shrubs and thick tree cover to avoid domestic dogs, Burmese Pythons and humans. The Red Muntjac marks its territory with secretions from beneath its eyes. It is a protected species in Hong Kong.
The largest wild animal in Hong Kong is the big-headed Eurasian Wild Pig, which can grow to a length of 2 metres. The males have prominent tusks and prefer to spend their lives on their own. However, female pigs form herds with the young piglets, which are born with alternately pale and dark protective stripes that fade as they mature.
Most prominent on Lantau Island and in Sai Kung, Sha Tau Kok and north of Plover Cove Reservoir, these nocturnal creatures forage for food in woodlands, grassland and even on agricultural land during the early morning or late evening.
The Eurasian Wild Pig is an omnivore which noisily eats roots, leaves, grasses, vegetables, eggs, earthworms, snails, insects, small animals and even carrion! Although unaware of the affect they have on their environment, their food-rooting turns over soil and helps plants to grow.
Because these animals are not very discriminating about their food sources, they often force farmers to set up electric fences to keep them from destroying crops. The pig is not protected by law.