The Republic of the Philippines is located in the western Pacific Ocean, and is an archipelago nation made up of 7,641 islands. It has a population of approximately 100,981,437 people. The Visayan and Tagalog groups are the largest ethnic groups. The capital city is Manila while Quezon City is the most populous. The highlands are mountainous, volcanic, and are covered by tropical rainforest. The country experiences a tropical maritime climate which is hot and humid. The country has a wide variety of flora and fauna due to its geographical diversity. There are no large predators apart from snakes, crocodiles, and birds of prey. In this article, we will look at some of the native reptiles found in the country.
Yellow-Headed Water Monitor
The Yellow-headed water monitor is scientifically known as Varanus Cumingi. Its specific name Cumingi is in recognition of an English conchologist and botanist, Hugh Cuming. It feeds on rodents, birds, fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. The spawning season starts in April and goes up to July. The males become so aggressive that there are several cases where they injured their female mates. Hatching takes place after three days of the young ones showing aggressive behavior. They inhabit forests and riparian areas. There is no report showing that the species is threatened with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listing the species as of least concern.
Amboina Box Turtle
Amboina Box Turtles have brownish shells which are not ornate. The heads are blackish with three yellow stripes on the sides. The shell texture can be used to determine the age of the turtle, and there is no particular underbelly pattern to determine the sex. However, the males have a slightly concaved shell. The Amboina box turtle has four subspecies that can be differentiated by the color and shape of their shells. They are namely, Wallacean box turtle, West Indonesian box turtle, South Asian East box turtle, and Burmese box turtle. The turtles are omnivorous with the younger ones being more carnivorous, while the older ones feed mainly as herbivores. He IUCN has ranked the Amboina box turtle as vulnerable.
Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor
The Northern Sierra Madre Forest Monitor is an enormous frugivorous lizard which can measure up to seven feet, yet weighs only around 22 pounds when mature. The light body is an adaptation to its arboreal characteristics. Its body and legs are blue-blacks with yellowish marks while the tail ha alternating segments of black and green. The males have hemipenes. They are only found in the Sierra Madre forest and the Luzon Island of the Philippines. It is the staple food of the indigenous people in the Philippines. This has led to a declining trend in their population due to over hunting.
McGregor’s Pit Viper
The McGregor’s Pit Viper is a highly venomous viper that is endemic to the Batanes Islands of the Philippines. The scientific name is Trimeresurus Flavomaculatus mcgregori with the sub-specific name, Mcgregori, being in honor of Richard McGregor who collected its specimen and survived its bite. There is no sufficient data to list the viper in the IUCN Red List.
The color of the Samar Cobra varies from black and yellow to green. It is a large snake which can grow up to lengths of five feet. It is endemic to the Visaya and Mindanao islands of the Philippines. They are not shy and have been known to live near human settlements. The snake’s diet includes rodents and frogs which are attracted to rice paddies. Samar Cobra is said to be nervous and is quick to bite and spray venom. The venom is aimed at the eyes and may cause permanent blindness if not properly treated
Other Native Reptiles of the Philipines
Other reptiles found living in the Philippines include the Sailfin Lizard, scientifically know as Hydrosaurus Pustulatus, the Philippine Crocodile, scientifically known as Crocodylus Mindorensis, and Girard's Tree Skink, scientifically known as Lipinia Vulcania.