Reptiles of the Philippines

Reptiles of the Philippines

Reptiles are represented by about 235 species, some 160 of which are endemic (68 percent). Six genera are endemic, including the snake genus Myersophis, which is represented by a single species, Myersophis alpestris, on Luzon. The Philippine flying lizards from the genus Draco are well represented here, with about 10 species. These lizards have a flap of skin on either side of their body, which they use to glide from trees to the ground.

An endemic freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis, CR) is considered the most threatened crocodilian in the world. In 1982, wild populations totaled only 500-1000 individuals; by 1995 a mere 100 crocodiles remained in natural habitats. The recent discovery of a population of this species in the Sierra Madre of Luzon brings new hope for its conservation, as does the implementation of projects aimed at raising awareness and protecting the crocodile’s habitat. The Crocodile Rehabilitation, Observance and Conservation (CROC) Project of the Mabuwaya Foundation is active in carrying out such projects.

Other unique and threatened reptiles include Gray’s monitor (Varanus olivaceus, VU) and the Philippine pond turtle (Heosemys leytensis, CR). A newly discovered monitor lizard, Varanus mabitang, from Panay is only the second monitor species known in the world to specialize on a fruit diet.

Reptiles and Amphibians

There are 332 species of reptiles and amphibians in the archipelago, 215 of which are endemic. It is believed that there are not more than 14 of the 114 total species of snakes in the country are poisonous. Several species of reptiles and amphibians remains undiscovered. Unfortunately, several of these species were believed to have disappeared without ever being discovered. 

The endemic freshwater crocodile Crocodylus mindorensis is critically endangered and is considered the most threatened crocodilian in the world. In 1982, wild populations is estimated to be only 500-1000 individuals; by 1995 a mere 100 crocodiles remained living in the wild. The recent discovery of a population of this species in the Sierra Madre mountains of Luzon brings new hope for its conservation. Projects were being made in an effort to save the crocodiles. The Crocodile Rehabilitation, Observance and Conservation (CROC) Project of the Mabuwaya Foundation is active in carrying out such projects.

Other unique and threatened reptiles include Gray’s monitor and the Philippine Pond Turtle. A newly discovered monitor lizard the Panay Monitor Lizard from the island of Panay is one of the only two species of monitor lizards that are specialized frugivores.

Scientists identify 3 new monitor lizards from Philippines

Scientists have discovered two new monitor lizard species and one new subspecies in the Philippines. “After the spectacular discovery of several new monitor lizards from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi three years ago, our results now illustrate that the diversity of water monitor lizards in the Philippines has also been largely underestimated,”

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