MANILA’S HISTORICAL SNAKE SPECIES
• 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.
Chrysopelea paradisi variabilis
Naja philippinensis, juvenile