NAME GAME

Animal Scene - - SCALY SPECIAL -

Be­cause this and other ar­bo­real vipers are of­ten en­coun­tered by lo­cals, they have be­come fa­mil­iar enough to war­rant recog­ni­tion in the na­tive ver­nac­u­lar. In many parts of the Ta­ga­log re­gion, pit vipers are of­ten called man­dadalag due to the be­lief that these snakes feed on dalag (snake­heads or Channa ssp.), a sup­po­si­tion that stemmed from ob­ser­va­tions of these snakes wait­ing in am­bush on low bushes over bod­ies of wa­ter. How­ever, these ar­bo­real vipers, as far as is known, do not feed on fishes. An­other name ap­plied, though less com­mon, is tres kan­tos, which is an ob­vi­ous al­lu­sion to the promi­nently tri­an­gu­lar heads. Ad­di­tion­ally, these are called rupong or dupong in the Bi­col re­gion and in the Visayas, and as pa­pala in north­ern Min­danao. The Bi­colano and Visayan name is sim­i­lar to the Ta­ga­log ulupong which ap­plies on co­bras; it may be that the term is a catch-all for ven­omous snakes, or even those per­ceived to be. The best known species, T. wa­gleri, is of­ten called “tem­ple viper” as these are of­ten placed and revered in tem­ples in parts of South­east Asia. The two Philip­pine species are re­ferred to as “Philip­pine tem­ple viper”, but I find this des­ig­na­tion am­bigu­ous due to the sim­ple fact that there are very few tem­ples here, and that none are known to have these snakes around. An­other vari­a­tion is “Bornean keeled pit viper”, which doesn’t re­ally make sense con­sid­er­ing that the species is not found only on Bor­neo. Per­haps the name “keeled pit viper” suits this species just fine.

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