MANILA’S HIS­TOR­I­CAL SNAKE SPECIES

Animal Scene - - HISTORICAL ANIMALS -

• ACROCHORDUS GRANULATUS - as (Cher­sy­drus granulatus) from No. 773, Bureau of Science col­lec­tion; col­lected in Manila Bay. This species is still quite com­mon in Mal­abon, where it is known as mal­abasa­han, on ac­count of its loose skin. It is quite un­likely that this species is still found in good num­bers in the heav­ily pol­luted Manila Bay, if at all. Non-ven­omous. • CALAMARIA GERVAISII - From Tay­lor: “The for­mer sub­species is es­pe­cially com­mon in Lu­zon, even in the city of Manila. It is a gre­gar­i­ous, bur­row­ing species.” And as foot­note: “Ken­neth, Carl, and Bet­tie Knust, three ar­dent young her­petol­o­gists, col­lected more than 300 spec­i­mens of C. gervaisii gervaisii about the yard of their home in Malate, Manila.” Calamaria gervaisii re­mains com­mon in the Manila area and neigh­bor­ing cities, but only where Y * "as in parks. Due to their cryp­tic na­ture, this non-ven­omous species is far less likely to be dis­cov­ered and thus killed by para­noid hu­mans.

• CORYPHODON KORROS 2 6 7  A ques­tion­able record pos­si­bly re­fer­ring to Ptyas lu­zo­nen­sis, a large and wide­spread snake that often in­hab­its wa­ter­ways in search of frogs, their main diet. The city is in­ter­sected with sev­eral rivers and es­tu­ar­ies, and it may be that dur­ing those pe­ri­ods when such bod­ies of wa­ter were still Y P. lu­zone­sis were prob­a­bly com­mon denizens. Degra­da­tion of habi­tats and per­se­cu­tion may have been de­ci­sive fac­tors in the ex­tir­pa­tion of this species in the Manila area, which is oth­er­wise fairly eas­ily ob­served in ad­ja­cent prov­inces. Ptyas korros, de­spite its wide dis­tri­bu­tion, is cur­rently not known to oc­cur in the Philip­pines. Ptyas is a genus of non-ven­omous snakes. • DRYOPHIOPS PHILIPPINA - From Tay­lor: “fe­male record, no. 207; the species is ar­bo­real and feeds on small lizards for the most part. The grooved fangs sug­gest the pres­ence of poi­son glands. The poi­son is in­ca­pable of se­ri­ous In­jury to larger an­i­mals or man.” A se­cre­tive, mildly ven­omous species and one that ap­pears to be strongly tied to in­tact low­land habi­tats, Dryophiops philippina is said to be get­ting in­creas­ingly rare de­spite its wide dis­tri­bu­tion. Doubt­less that this species is al­ready likely ex­tinct any­where in the Manila area, with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tion of parks and ceme­ter­ies.

• FORDONIA LEUCOBALIA - Re­marks by Tay­lor: “Known as the Crab-eat­ing Man­grove Snake, this species is in­cluded on the strength of Oskar Boettger’s record of a spec­i­men + " + K X Tay­lor’s time, man­groves were still quite in­tact around Tondo and In­tra­muros. Habi­tat con­ver­sion and pol­lu­tion could have driven this species’ ex­tinc­tion in Manila. This species was not in­cluded in An­gel C. Al­cala’s Rep­tiles and Am­phib­ians in Vol. 10 of Guide to Philip­pine Flora and Fauna. These snakes’ venom is highly spe­cial­ized to sub­du­ing crustacean prey and pose no risk to man. • GERARDIA PROVOSTIANA - from Tay­lor: “Gerardia has been fre­quently in­cluded in Philip­pine fau­nal lists on the au­thor­ity of A.M.C. Dumeril and G. Bi­bron, who re­port Gerardia pre­vos­tiana Ey­doux and Ger­vais from Manila. The spec­i­men so re­ported very prob­a­bly orig­i­nated in Cey­lon, or on the In­dian coast.”

• LYCODON CAPUCINUS - as Ophites auli­cus. Known in the Ta­ga­log ver­nac­u­lar as ahas­tu­log or ahas-ba­hay, this noc­tur­nal, non­ven­omous species re­mains one of the most com­monly en­coun­tered snakes around Manila, but are often killed out of fear. • LYCODON TESSELLATUS - Tay­lor’s Re­marks say “The type lo­cal­ity is “Manila auf Lu­zon.” This is the only ex­act lo­cal­ity known. Mi­iller’s spec­i­men is la­beled “Philip­pinen.” Ev­i­dently this species is very rare.” Lycodon tessellatus is one of the more enig­matic species of snakes in the Philip­pines, and if the lo­cus clas­si­cus is now al­ready ur­ban­ized and un­less fur­ther pop­u­la­tions can be found, then this dis­tinc­tive species is al­ready pos­si­bly ex­tinct. • OLIGODON ANCORUS (as Ho­larchus ancorus) – From Tay­lor: “there ex­ists a pho­to­graph of a liv­ing spec­i­men from Manila; It is 1 The ref­er­ence of spec­i­mens to Java is prob­a­bly er­ro­neous. The species is small, and ab­so­lutely harm­less. It ap­pears very gen­tle when han­dled… This species is not rare in Lu­zon.” A species that is very rare, if not al­ready ex­tir­pated, in Manila with the pos­si­ble ex­cep­tions of parks and ceme­ter­ies. A pri­mar­ily egg-eat­ing snake with large fangs de­signed to punc­ture leath­ery rep­tile eggs. The fangs have no venom-con­duct­ing glands.

Ahaetulla prasina

Chrysope­lea par­a­disi vari­abilis

Naja philip­pinen­sis, ju­ve­nile

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