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Guide to Hong Kong’s wildlife

Don’t assume that Hong Kong is all skyscrapers and steel! There’s a surprising amount of green space – and an amazing array of wildlife in Hong Kong. Robert Ferguson has lived with his family in the city for over 20 years, and runs a daily blog about the wildlife found here. The award winning photographer is a font of knowledge on local beasts, bugs and birds. “Hong Kong is amazing for wildlife, with over 1,000 animal species, including around 230 species of butterflies, 120 different dragonflies, 100 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 57 various mammals,” he says.

collared scops owl Hk Wildlife
Collared Scops Owl. Picture: Robert Ferguson

And let’s not forget the birds – with a total of over 540 species recorded! “A diligent birder could record 200-plus species of birds in one day,” adds Rob, “whereas that could be a lifetime’s work in England!”

With about 40 percent of land in Hong Kong devoted to country parks, Rob says that there is plenty to explore. Here he gives some pointers on how to identify some of the birds, frogs, lizards, snakes and insects we share a habitat with.


One of most familiar and striking of the many birds here is the black-eared kite, often mistaken for an eagle by newcomers.
See them … diving for fish scraps off Sai Kung pier, or riding the airwaves near The Peak in winter.

If you hear a “hoooo-ooo” at night, you might be lucky enough to see the most frequently seen of the Hong Kong owls, the pretty collared Scops owl.
See them … around Tai Mo Shan, or at Kadoorie Farm.

Hong Kong Wildlife - Black kite eagle
Black-eared kite. Picture: Robert Ferguson


There are many amazing insects in HK, and more butterfly species than the whole of Europe! One jewel-like creature you often see on walks is called the tiger beetle.
See them … skipping ahead of you on jungle and country paths, particularly after rain, in spring and summer.

Dragonflies are everywhere, too, including the easily recognisable Asian pintail.
See them … in Country Parks with ponds, like Lions Park near Sai Kung

Hong Kong Wildlife - Asian Pintail
Asian Pintail. Picture: Robert Ferguson


There are a lot of snakes in Hong Kong – about 50 species, including six deadly ones.
See them ... mainly at night, such as this harmless cat-eyed snake having a yawn!

Hong Kong Wildlife - Spotted cat snake
Cat-eyed snake. Picture: Robert Ferguson


We have unique pink dolphins on our coast, and another 57 terrestrial mammal species, including barking deer, pangolins, civet cats, mongooses and porcupines.
See them … wandering as pairs in Mid-Levels and at The Peak.

Hong Kong Wildlife - Porcupine
Porcupine. Picture: Robert Ferguson

Read Rob’s detailed guides on Hong Kong birds, snakes, insects and mammals on his blog at wildcreatureshongkong.org, and check out his Facebook page at fb.com/ wildcreatureshongkong.

See more in our Living in Hong Kong section:

The expat’s guide to where to live in Hong Kong

Environmental groups in Hong Kong

This article first appeared in the City Guide 2018 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.