The Animal Thais Dislike

Don’t look at it. It will bring you bad luck!

Sawatdee ka,

I went to Lumpini park today and spotted this reptile. Many Thai people have a superstiton that if you see this animal, bad luck will come to you. I remember when I was a kid and there were few of these reptiles in my school’s pond. Whenever my friends and I saw it we would scream and ran away because we didn’t want to have a bad luck. I don’t have such a believe anymore now.

The official name in Thai of this animal is ตัวเิงินตัวทอง [dtua ngern dtua tong]. เงิน [ngern] means money and ทอง [tong] means gold. It is a good name, people should think it will bring you good luck, right? I don’t know why people have the opposite believe.

Thais also call this reptile another name which is เหี้ย [hîa]. It is also a slang means something like ‘son of  a bitch’. You don’t want to be called เหี้ย [hîa] 😉

Have you ever seen dtua ngern dtua tong before?

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57 Responses to The Animal Thais Dislike

  1. Enrique 22/03/2013 at 14:15 #


    yes! like 2 days ago, actually!
    I’m very new at your website Kru Mod, and I already like it. Thanks!

  2. warren 20/03/2012 at 09:07 #

    I like the name dtua ngern dtua tong. I not ever want to call any animal a swear word. But I think it is bad luck if Monitor lizard (dtua ngern dtua tong) bite you. They have bacteria in their mouth to help them digest their food. So when they bite you you will get very sick. Maybe this is the ancient reason for giving them this superstition. Thank you for teach me Dtua ngern dtua tong.

  3. Ken 03/03/2012 at 21:22 #

    Kaw toht krap: What does dtua mean? closet is the best I can come up with but I think that is closer to tua.

    • Mod 04/03/2012 at 14:08 #

      “dtua” literally means ‘body’. It is also used as a unit count for clothes, animals, tables and chairs.

  4. iCE 03/03/2012 at 00:55 #

    we name it “Land” in southern dialect, don’t you forget? eieieieiei

    • Mod 04/03/2012 at 14:09 #

      That’s right! Thank you for visiting my blog ja Ice:)

  5. Daniel 02/03/2012 at 01:05 #

    seen them at Lumpini and i really like them. now I understand why my thai friend said “i can’t look at it!” and ran away…

  6. John 21/02/2012 at 10:41 #


  7. gharicote 21/02/2012 at 09:59 #

    Hia nan nagleeyot mak.

  8. Ju Li En 20/02/2012 at 09:47 #

    Hi Mod ! thanks for this article… A friend told me that the slang is “tor hîa”, … is that right ?

  9. Keith 20/02/2012 at 05:12 #

    ที่อเมริกา คือแมวสีดำผ่านทางเดินของคุณมาที่ทำให้คนโชคร้ายครับ ผมได้เห็นสัตว์ตัวนี้ในเมืองโบราณครับ

  10. Tom 19/02/2012 at 23:02 #

    I’ve seen a monitor lizard on golf course outside of Bangkok – the creature did a flip off of the river bank into the water. I was surprised how fast he moved.

  11. Giles 19/02/2012 at 19:52 #

    I think it’s good sense to make kids believe they should run from it… in Ancient Siam, when there was more jungle in the country and therefore more varan parent didn’t want their kids play around with this kind of animal and get injuried IMHO

  12. David 19/02/2012 at 19:25 #

    I was wondering when we were going to get to the Thai swear words 😉

  13. Jerome 19/02/2012 at 18:29 #

    Hello !
    no ตัวเหี้ย here, maybe there are some at the zoo.
    Some people (mostly old people) are unreasonnably afraid of “gecko” (very little reptiles compared to varan).

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