Asian Herpetological Research 2015, 6(2): 73-131
Herpetological Diversity of Timor-Leste: Updates and a Review of
Mark O'SHEA!, Caitlin SANCHEZ’, Andrew KATHRINER’, Sven MECKE', Venancio
LOPES CARVALHO’, Agivedo VARELA RIBEIRO’, Zito AFRANIO SOARES’, Luis
LEMOS DE ARAUJO! and Hinrich KAISER” *
! Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton WVl 1LY, United
Kingdom; and West Midland Safari Park, Bewdley, Worcestershire DY12 LF, United Kingdom
* Department of Biology, Victor Valley College, 18422 Bear Valley Road, Victorville, California 92395, USA
* Department of Biology, Villanova University, 800 East Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085, USA;
present address: Department of Herpetology, Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, New York 10460, USA
* Department of Animal Evolution and Systematics, Faculty of Biology, Philipps Universitat Marburg, Karl-von-Frisch-
Strafe 8, 35032 Marburg, Germany
` Universidade National Timor-Lorosa e, Faculdade de Ciencias da Educaçao, Departamentu da Biologia, Avenida
Cidade de Lisboa, Liceu Dr. Francisco Machado, Dili, Timor-Leste
* Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Abstract We report the results of five herpetological surveys during 2011—2013 that included visits to all districts
of Timor-Leste (Aileu, Ainaro, Baucau, Bobonaro, Dili, Covalima, Ermera, Lautém, Liquicga, Manatuto, Manufahi,
Viqueque) except the Oecusse exclave. Our fieldwork culminated in the discovery of one putative new frog species
(genus Kaloula), at least five putative new lizard species (genera Cyrtodactylus, Cryptoblepharus, and Sphenomorphus),
and two putative new snake species (genera Stegonotus and Indotyphlops). In addition, we present new distribution
records of amphibians and reptiles for 11 of the country's 12 contiguous districts, along with additional natural history
data. Results from our surveys increase the number of amphibian and reptiles known to occur in Timor-Leste from 22
species before our surveys began to over 60, including over 20 as yet undescribed species.
Keywords Timor-Leste, Kaloula, Cyrtodactylus, Eremiascincus, Stegonotus
1. Introduction Island, a volcanogenic island geographically positioned
in the Inner Banda Arc and situated ~25 km north of
Timor-Leste (Figure 1) comprises four separate land
areas, (1) the eastern half of Timor Island in the Outer
Banda Arc of the Lesser Sunda Archipelago, with an
area of approximately 14,480 km’; (2) the small (12 km’)
uninhabited Jaco Island, a landmass of corallogenic origin
lying ca. 750 m off the coast of Timor's easternmost
point; (3) the much larger (105 km’) inhabited Ataüro
" Corresponding author: Dr. Hinrich KAISER, from Victor Valley
College, USA, with his research focusing on the diversity, morphology,
and conservation of Southeast Asian amphibians and reptiles.
Received: 24 September 2014 Accepted: 11 February 2015
mainland Timor-Leste's northern coast at the capital city
Dili; and (4) the Oecusse District, an exclave (810 km’)
on the northern coast of Timor, 53 km air-line distance
west of contiguous Timor-Leste and surrounded on all
landward sides by Indonesian West Timor. Timor-Leste's
position at the southeastern edge of Wallacea makes
the country an interesting area from a biogeographical
perspective, as it is inhabited by a mosaic of faunal
elements with either Southeast Asian or Australo-Papuan
origin (see Monk et al., 1997). Due to its turbulent history
as the Portuguese colony farthest from the mother country
(nominally since 1515; West, 2009) and because of a
74 Asian Herpetological Research
violent annexation by Indonesia between 1975 and 1999,
the area could not be properly surveyed until after Timor-
Leste regained independence in 2002. A summary of the
geography, geology, and habitats of Timor-Leste and a
history of herpetological collecting in the country since
the early 19" Century, was presented by Trainor (2010)
and Kaiser et al. (2011).
Timor-Leste is a country with very diverse habitats
(Figure 2), ranging from beaches and rocky shores
(Figure 2A) to montane meadows and mountains (e.g.,
Figure 2E). Much of the habitat has been altered by the
presence of humans to a greater or lesser degree, ranging
from active agricultural sites (e.g., Figure 2C) to patches
of old-growth forest used by livestock (e.g., Figure 2D).
The most pristine habitats include those demarcated
by precipitous slopes (e.g., Figure 2E) or periodically
inundated areas (e.g., Figure 2F), as well as those of
particular cultural or religious significance where human
alterations are prohibited (e.g., Figure 2G, H; pers. obs.).
As we reported previously (Kaiser et al., 2011), it appears
that the herpetofauna of Timor-Leste has shown some
resilience to disturbance, and species diversity may be
high locally despite low-level human disturbance, and
even after the dramatic shift from primary tropical forest
to coffee forest.
Beginning with an initial survey in 2009, we have
been conducting fieldwork in all 13 districts of Timor-
Leste under the banner of the Victor Valley College
Tropical Research Initiative. The present report on the
field seasons of 2011—2013, with the addition of some
more limited surveys conducted by AVR, LLA, and ZAS,
supplements our reports for 2009 (Kaiser et al., 2011) and
2010 (O’Shea et al., 2012). Reports for the politically and
geographically isolated Oecusse District (Sanchez et al.,
2012) and Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b) have been
Surveys were conducted during both the wet season
(Phase IV: 18 January-6 February 2011; Phase VI: 24
January-7 February 2012) and the dry season (Phase V:
Figure 1 Map of Timor-Leste and its position in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Numbered localities are listed in Table 1.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
19 June-5 July 2011; Phase VII: 21 June-10 July 2012;
Phase VIII: 18 June-2 July 2013). Shorter wet season
surveys were also conducted by ZAS, LLA, and AVR
(11-14 October 2010, 10-12 November 2010, and 7
January 2011, respectively). During 2011—2013, fieldwork
was carried out at 35 main localities (Table 1) with
smaller sub-localities clustered around some of these. The
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 75
general methods applied during fieldwork, the preparation
of voucher specimens, and any associated scientific tasks,
follow the protocols detailed by Kaiser et al. (2011). Most
roadkills, depending on their state of decomposition,
were skin- or scale-snipped to obtain tissue samples
for molecular studies. All vouchered specimens
have been deposited in the United States National
Table 1 List of localities surveyed by the Victor Valley College Herpetofaunal Survey of Timor-Leste during Phases IV-VIII (2011—2013).
Each locality includes a superscripted Roman numeral to indicate during which phase they were surveyed (locations only visited during
Phases I-III, on Ataüro Island, or in the Oecusse exclave are omitted (for these locations see Kaiser et al., 2011, 2012; O’Shea et al., 2012;
Sanchez et al., 2012).
nd District Locality E cu GPS coordinates!
[=H Dili W Dili (Timor Lodge Hotel; Comoro; Tasi Tolu) 2-25 S 08°33' E 125°31'
ae Dili E Dili (Becora; Cristo Rei) 20 S 08°33' E 125°35'
go en Dili Metinaro mangrove swamp 1 S 08°31' E 125°47'
4" Dili S Dili (Dare) 545 S 08°36' E 125°32'
S. Dili Comoro River (Beduku) 60 S 08°35' E 125°32'
6" vm Dili, Liquiga, Aileu Comoro River (confluence with Bemos River)” 115 S 08°37' E 125°32'
7" Aileu Lake Be Matin 1105 S 08°42' E 125232"
grum Ermera Eraulo (Meleotegi River; Sta. Bakhita Mission) 1100-1250 S 08°47' E 125°27'
9" Bobonaro Balibo (Fiuren) 463 S 08°57' E 125°04'
10 Bobonaro W Maliana (Ramaskora; Soto River) 196—230 S 08°59' E 125?12'
117 Bobonaro E Maliana (Maganuto, Mt. Leolaco) 1040—1063 S 08°59' E 125?16'
12" Bobonaro E Maliana (Galosapulu swamp) 712 S 09?01' E 125?16'
13h Covalima Suai & surrounds (Castelo Fronteira Guest House) 30-53 S 09?19' E 125?15'
14" Covalima Kasabauk rice-paddies 9 S 09*24' E 125°09'
15 Covalima Tilomar (Tilomar Forest Reserve; Maubesi; Mt. Debululik) 260—900 S 09?20' E 125?06'
16^ Ainaro Maubisse (Pousada Maubisse) 1495 S 08°50' E 125?36'
17^ Manufahi Same (Ailelehun Guest House; Trilolo River; Ladiki; Mirbuti) 340-1200 S 09?00' E 125°39'
187 * Manufahi Betano (Dry site; Wet site) 20-44 S 09°10' E 125°42'
19 Y vr Manufahi Fatucahi (Convent of St Antony d'Lisboa; Lake Lenas) 36-38 S 09?02' E 125?59'
20^ Manatuto Nancuro, Natarbora, S Umaboco 3 S 09?02' E 126°04'
219. Viqueque N Ossa (Liamida; Mt. Mundo Perdido) 930-1160 S 08°44' E 126°22'
22k Baucau Venilale caves, N Venilale 675 S 08°37' E 126°23'
23"! Baucau Uatubala, S. Afacaimau (Carlia spot) 370 S 08°33' E 126°26'
24! Baucau Baguia (Vila Rabilhi Guest House; Pousada de Baguia) 440 S 08?38' E 126?39'
25 Baucau Ossohuna (Ossohuna; Afaloicai) 938 S 08°41' E 126°37'
26" m Lautém Com (Com Beach Resort; Com wharf; Pousada de Com) 2-15 S 08?21' E 127°03'
OTe Lautém Raga caves & surrounds 400—553 S 08°26' E 126°59'
28" Lautém Tutuala (Pousada de Tutuala) 373 S 08?24' E 127?15'
29" Lautém Malahara (Mainina sinkhole; Lake Ira Lalaro) 336-424 S 08?29' E 127?11'
30" Lautém Jaco Island 10-40 S 08?25' E 127?19'
'GPS coordinates are approximate to define the area in which the survey work was carried out. Exact localities are not provided to protect
some of the unique and fragile habitats in Timor-Leste.
?The confluence of the Comoro and Bemos Rivers marks the border between Dili, Liquica and Aileu Districts, with specimens collected on
both banks in Liquica and Aileu Districts.
76 Asian Herpetological Research Vol. 6
Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, of the USNM and are listed here with herpetological
Washington D.C., USA (USNM). Those specimens not image numbers (accessioned as USNM-HI). Museum
yet accessioned have field tags of the USNM (USNM- abbreviations are taken from Sabaj Pérez (2014).
FS). Photographs of road-killed specimens, CITES- In the species accounts, we provide information to
protected species, and other unvouchered specimens have aid in field identification of amphibians and reptiles,
been deposited in the herpetological image collection particularly for taxa not included in one of our earlier
Figure 2 Sample habitat types surveyed in Timor-Leste during 2011—13. Localities are listed numerically (see Table 1). (A) Rocky shore at Cristo
Rei Protected Area on the outskirts of Dili (Locality 2). The part of this habitat along the tidal and splash zones is a habitat of Cryptoblepharus cf.
schlegelianus and Laticauda colubrina, whereas in the wooded area at higher elevation, sun skinks (Eutropis cf. multifasciata) and Timor monitors
(Varanus timorensis) have been observed. (B) Montane habitat at Maganuto (Locality 11). This area has stands of tall bamboo in boulder-strewn
areas, intermixed with a grassy meadow and a montane forest on the upper slopes. Whereas we found the forest to be unproductive in our search, the
bamboo yielded Hemidactylus cf. garnotii, and in the grassy meadow we found a Polypedates cf. leucomystax under a flat rock some distance away
from any vegetation. (C) The banana plantation at the confluence of the Bemos and Comoro Rivers (Locality 6; photo taken towards Aileu District)
turned out to be an unexpectedly important site at which one of only two recent specimens of Cylindrophis cf. boulengeri was found. Other species
recorded in this area include Duttaphrynus melanostictus, Fejervarya sp., Polypedates cf. leucomystax, sun skinks (Eutropis cf. multifasciata), and
house geckos (e.g., Hemidactylus frenatus). (D) Disturbed forest at Fiuren (Locality 9). Overtly a nice patch of forest with an expansive growth of
large trees, this area is beset by domestic pigs that scour the leaf litter and the root matter for food. We located P. cf. leucomystax and several gecko
taxa (Cyrtodactylus, Gekko, Gehyra, Hemidactylus) in this area. (E) View of the mountains above our survey area near Baguia (Locality 25). A
promising habitat with extreme topography, this is the only area in Timor-Leste where we have found individuals of Hemiphyllodactylus cf. typus.
(F) The Mainina sinkhole (Locality 29) in Nino Konis Santana National Park. This locality is the only outflow of Lake Ira Lalaro, the largest lake
in Timor-Leste. The area is seasonally inaccessible due to variations in the lake's water level, and it lies right at the foot of the steep-sided Paitxau
Mountains karst formation. (G) The road passing through tropical wet forest in the Nancuro Protected Area (Locality 20). On either side of this road
is dense, mixed coastal forest that includes some large trees. The ground is partially inundated after rains. This has been a very productive collection
locality with a high diversity of herpetofauna, including Kaloula, Cyrtodactylus, Sphenomorphus, Dendrelaphis, Stegonotus, and Trimeresurus. (H)
Dry coastal forest on Jaco Island (Locality 30). Even though this corallogenic island appears to be very dry, we have found species that we have more
commonly encountered in moist habitats elsewhere in Timor-Leste, including Cyrtodactylus, Eremiascincus, and Sphenomorphus. Photos (A), (C),
and (E)-(H) by Hinrich Kaiser, (B) and (D) by Mark O'Shea. (Continued on facing page).
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
reports (Kaiser et al., 2011, 2013b; O’Shea et al., 2012;
Sanchez et al., 2012), comment on new locality records
for taxa previously recorded during Phases I-II (2009—
2010), provide full accounts for taxa not previously
recorded during our surveys, and discuss the natural
history of the species and the manner in which they were
encountered. The recording or collection of taxa during
particular phases is indicated by the phase designation
in bracketed superscripted Roman numerals, following
taxon names. Thus, a species encountered in Phases IV
and VII would carry the superscript "YY".
Common names are provided in English (E), German
(G) and the country's lingua franca, Tetun (T). We made
a number of decisions with regards to the use or coining
of common names in Tetun and the interested reader 1s
referred to O’Shea et al. (2012) for a discussion of our
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 77
arguments. Proposed common names for house geckos
incorporate the commonly used Tetun name for small
geckos and the scientific name or a descriptive term.
Family Bufonidae — True Toads
Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Schneider, 1799
Common names. (E) Black-spined Toad, Common Asian
Toad. (G) Schwarznarbenkróte. (T) Manduku Interfet
(manduku = frog, INTERFET = International Force for
Known distribution. Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Figure
3) has heretofore been reported from nine of Timor-
Leste's 13 districts (Table 2): Aileu, Bobonaro, Covalima,
Figure 2 Continued.
78 Asian Herpetological Research
Table 2 Amphibian records for the districts of Timor-Leste. Black dots indicate previously known records, red dots denote new records.
e € :
Taxon P g z £ 3 . r " g E " 3 References
4i å à & BÓ à E à 4 3 3 3 6 p
Duttaphrynus melanostictus @ e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. 1-5
Fejervarya spp. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. (J e. e. e. e. 2-4
Limnonectes timorensis e e 2,5
Litoria everetti e 2,6
Kaloula sp. e. e. 5
Polypedates cf. leucomystax e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e e. e. e. 2-5
"References are identified numerically as follows: 1 = Trainor, 2009; 2 = Kaiser et al., 2011; 3 = O’Shea et al., 2012; 4 = Sanchez et al., 2012; 5 = this
paper; 6 = Menzies, 2006.
Dili, Ermera, Liquiga, Manufahi, Oecusse, and Viqueque
(Kaiser et al., 2011; O’Shea et al., 2012; Sanchez et al.,
2012; Trainor, 2009).
New localities. We collected additional specimens from
the Comoro River valley (Localities 5 and 6; Table 1),
which included a series of tadpoles from the confluence
of the Comoro and Bemos Rivers, which occurs at the
boundaries of Aileu, Dili, and Liquiga Districts. Tadpoles
were captured in riverine kolks, where back eddies create
a respite from rushing water, on the Aileu side (Locality
6). An adult was captured at Beduku Aldeia (Dili District;
Locality 5). We vouchered single specimens from the Soto
River (Bobonaro District; Locality 10) and the Franciscan
Convent of St. Antony d’Lisboa (Manufahi District;
Locality 19), and took voucher photographs for four other
localities where we recorded this species: Sta. Bakhita
Mission (Eraulo, Ermera District; Locality 8); Nancuro
coastal forest (Natarbora, Manatuto District; Locality 20),
Ossu (Baucau District; USNM-HI 2823), and Liamida
(Viqueque District; Locality 21). The Manatuto and
Baucau records constitute new district records and bring
to a total of 11 (Table 2) the number of mainland districts
that have been colonized by D. melanostictus since its
arrival less than a decade ago. Based on our observations,
the species has so far (mid-2013) not expanded into
Lautém District, the country’s easternmost and the site of
Nino Konis Santana National Park, and it has not yet been
documented from Ainaro District.
Natural history. This is an introduced species that is
believed to have arrived in Timor-Leste with INTERFET
peacekeeping troops. The first reports appear to have
come from Oecusse District in 1999, a date that
coincides with the arrival of South Korean INTERFET
peacekeepers. From there the toad appears to have
gradually spread eastwards, arriving in Dili District in
2007 (Trainor, 2009). We recorded it further southeast at
Same (Manufahi District) in 2009 (Kaiser et al., 2011),
concurring with Trainor (2009), who also recorded it in
the area during the same year, and on the south coast at
Uma Boot (Viqueque District) in 2010 (O'Shea et al.,
Sanchez et al. (2012) reported this species from the
Oecusse exclave. Our surveys so far have not revealed
the presence of D. melanostictus or any other amphibian
species on Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b). During
2011 and 2012 we were able to report a much wider range
for the black-spined toad, across the contiguous districts
of mainland Timor-Leste, from Bobonaro (Locality 10),
in the extreme west near the border with West Timor, to
Ossu Subdistrict of Viqueque District (Locality 21) in
the east. We have now recorded D. melanostictus from
nine of the 12 contiguous districts, plus Oecusse, from
sea level to elevations of 930 m (Liamida, Viqueque
District; Locality 21) and 1225 m (Sta. Bakhita Mission,
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
Ermera District; Locality 8), in habitats ranging from
anthropogenic (roadways, convent grounds) to coastal
forests, rocky river beds, and upland boulder-strewn
grasslands. Based on our observations this introduced
toad species favors anthropogenically-modified habitats,
where it can be found in great numbers; it appears to be
absent in pristine habitats. In drainage ditches and rice
paddies, D. melanostictus is frequently found in sympatry
with frogs of the genus Fejervarya.
Our vouchers include adult toads and a series of
tadpoles (USNM 581259—63) collected from muddy
rivulets and pools alongside the Comoro riverbed.
Duttaphrynus melanostictus was also found to be very
common in the grounds of the Franciscan Convent
of St. Antony d'Lisboa, Fatucahi (Manufahi District;
Locality 19) but we vouchered only a single specimen
(USNM 565895) that had predated and begun to pass a
blindsnake (/ndotyphlops braminus; O’Shea et al., 2013).
Another specimen was found sitting atop the 2.0 m stone
convent wall, demonstrating the climbing ability of these
Although we initially did not collect voucher
specimens of this non-Timorese amphibian, in our efforts
to monitor its effects on native taxa, we collected 87
specimens in several districts in 2013 to be able to carry
out a gut content analysis to study the diet of this exotic
(Dóring et al., in prep.). Our most recent observations
continue to confirm the absence from Timor-Leste of the
much larger and elsewhere harmful cane toad (Rhinella
marina), with which D. melanostictus has been confused
by Timorese and expatriates alike.
Family Dicroglossidae — Fork-tongued Frogs
Genus Fejervarya ' \""!
Common names. (E) Rice Paddy Frogs. (G) Reisfrósche.
(T) Manduku natar (manduku = frog, natar = rice paddy).
Known distribution. Frogs of the genus Fejervarya
(Figure 4) have been reported from seven of Timor-
Leste’s 13 districts (Table 2): Baucau, Dili, Ermera,
Lautém, Manufahi, Oecusse, and Viqueque (Kaiser et al.,
2011; O’Shea et al., 2012; Sanchez et al., 2012).
New localities. For 2011, we report additional voucher
specimens from the localities at the confluence of
the Comoro and Bemos Rivers (see D. melanostictus
account), from the Aileu bank (Locality 6). We also
added vouchers from a roadside marsh at the junction of
the Com-Bauro road with the North Coast Road (Com,
Lautém District; Locality 26), and from the southern
shore of Lake Ira Lalaro (Malahara village, Lautém
District; Locality 28). We also provide the first records
of Fejervarya spp. from southern Timor-Leste, namely
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 79
for Manatuto District, from coastal forest (Locality 20);
for Manufahi District from the grounds of the Franciscan
Convent of St. Antony d'Lisboa and the southern shore
of Lake Lenas (both near Fatucahi; Locality 19); and
for Covalima District from the grounds of the Castelo
Fronteira Guest House (Suai town; Locality 13) and the
extensive rice-paddies at Kasabauk (Locality 14). The
Aileu, Manatuto, and Covalima specimens represent new
district records (Table 2). ZAS also provided our first
records for Bobonaro District with vouchers from the
Soto River and Ramaskora (Locality 10), and a single
voucher from the Galosapulu swamp (Locality 12).
In 2012 we obtained additional vouchers from west
of Dili town (Timor Lodge Hotel grounds, Dili District;
Locality 1) and the Meleotegi River (Ermera District;
Locality 8), and made collections in two new localities:
Lake Be Matin (Aileu District; Locality 7), and the
Afaloicai and Ossohuna rice paddies (Baucau District;
Locality 25). Fejervarya spp. have now been reported
from 11 of the 12 contiguous mainland districts in
addition to Oecusse (Sanchez et al., 2012), but they have
not been recorded from Ainaro District; based on the
limited environments suitable for Fejervarya, we do not
anticipate their presence on Atauro Island (Kaiser et al.,
Natural history. Recorded widely on all previous
phases, our additional collection confirms that rice-
paddy frogs occupy a much broader variety of habitats
than their common name indicates. Along the mostly dry
Comoro riverbed (Locality 6), an adult (USNM 579397)
was found under a rock right at the edge of the narrow
flow, whereas a tadpole (USNM 581584) was collected
from a nearby shallow pool shared with tadpoles of
Duttaphrynus melanostictus. Near this locality, we
observed a wolf spider (family Lycosidae) that appeared
to follow the movements of Fejervarya tadpoles grazing
near the surface (Figure 5), and we consider it likely that
these spiders take tadpoles as prey. Lycosid spiders have
already been documented as hunting in this way (Jara and
Specimens were also vouchered from the Soto River
(Locality 10; USNM 579287—92) and Meleotegi River
(Locality 8; USNM 579710, 580466) during both the
wet and the dry seasons. A population of rice paddy frogs
from far-eastern Timor-Leste (Locality 26) was initially
located based on their vocalizations along the edge of the
road, where a leaking water pipe had created puddles.
This population (USNM 579398—401) extended into
a marshy area next to the road. In Bobonaro District,
a single specimen was collected in a swamp at 712 m
80 Asian Herpetological Research
Figure 3 Duttaphrynus melanostictus found in a streamside
refugium along the Comoro River (Locality 1). This specimen was
not vouchered. Photo by Mark O'Shea.
elevation (Locality 12; USNM 279297). Near Malahara
village (Lautém District; Locality 28) several individuals
were seen in the marshy area along the edge of Lake Ira
Lalaro, and a single specimen was vouchered (USNM
Our south coast records for a Fejervarya species come
from pristine wet coastal forest (Locality 20; USNM
579279); grassy areas of a residential compound (Locality
19; USNM 579276-—77); the grassy edge of a small lake
(Locality 19; USNM 579278); and an ornamental fountain
in a residential compound (Locality 13; USNM 579280-
81), where they occurred in the company of a large
number of tadpoles (USNM 581264—77). As expected,
Fejervarya were found to be especially common in rice
paddy habitats, from near sea level at Kasabauk (9 m,
Locality 14; USNM 759284—86) and medium elevations
(e.g., 229 m at Ramaskora; Locality 10; USNM 279293-
96) to higher elevations (e.g., 775 m at Afaloicai and
Ossohuna (Locality 25; USNM 580468—72, 581287-93),
Figure 4 A female rice-paddy frog (genus Fejervarya) from active,
inundated rice paddies near Baguia (Locality 25; USNM 580467).
Photo by Mark O'Shea.
and over 1105 m at Lake Be Matin (Locality 7; USNM
57797706—09). Individuals were also encountered crossing
or occupying rain puddles on the road (e.g., at Baucau
District, between Localities 24 and 25; USNM 580467).
As during previous phases we found rice-paddy frogs
to be extremely abundant where they occurred, and
although numerous specimens were initially collected,
only a few were selected as vouchers. The physiological
plasticity of these species and their adaptability to
anthropogenic habitats is discussed elsewhere (Kaiser et
al., 2011; O'Shea et al., 2012) and will not be expanded
upon further here.
Limnonectes timorensis (Smith, 1927) ^ Y™
Common names. (E) Timor River Frog. (G) Timorfrosch
(T) Manduku mota (manduku = frog, mota = river).
Known distribution. Limnonectes timorensis (Figure 6A)
has heretofore been reported from only a single locality in
Ermera District (Table 2; see Kaiser et al., 2011)
Figure 5 Tadpole of Fejervarya sp. (arrow) with its potential predator, a wolf spider. The spider was observed in close proximity to tadpoles
along a slow-flowing side arm of the Comoro River (Locality 1). Photo by Hinrich Kaiser.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
New localities. Additional specimens were collected
at the Meleotegi River location (Locality 8) during the
dry seasons of 2011 and 2012, and a single voucher was
obtained from the Afaloicai rice paddies near Baguia
(Baucau District; Locality 24). This single voucher is a
juvenile and its location at Afaloicai is over 130 km E of
the Meleotegi River.
Natural history. Previously we had encountered this frog
only along the Meleotegi River (near the Sta. Bakhita
Mission (Eraulo, Ermera District; Locality 8), with only
two vouchers collected during the dry season of 2009.
During the dry season of 2011 we again encountered L.
timorensis along the Meleotegi River, where several males
(e.g., USNM 579403-07) were discovered sheltering
under rocks at the water's edge. Two of these specimens
(USNM 579404, 579407) contained parasitic cestodes
(Platyhelminthes: Cestoda) in their leg muscles (Figure
6C, D), which likely constitute another host record for
spargana (Goldberg et al., 2010). A return to the same
location, at the same time of year, in 2012 produced a
series of nine tadpoles (Figure 6B) collected from a rock
pool on a large mid-stream rock (USNM 581278-86). The
tadpoles were euthanized and photographed at sequential
stages of development over the following ten days.
All specimens of L. timorensis collected at the
Meleotegi River (elev. 1175-1185 m) were found in close
association with the river, albeit in the dry season, on
rocks along its periphery. The single juvenile collected
at Afaloicai, near the Baucau-Viqueque boundary at an
elevation of 775 m (USNM 580371) was taken at night in
the grass surrounding a rice-paddy.
Taxonomic comment. The generic status of some of the
frogs in the genus Limnonectes 1s being re-evaluated,
and it appears that both molecular evidence and some
morphological characteristics align the Timor population
with ranids in the genus Hylarana (Che et al., 2007;
Kaiser et al., 2014). If this generic concept is confirmed,
this species should be assigned to the genus Hylarana and
transferred to the Ranidae.
Family Hylidae — Treefrogs
Litoria everetti (Boulenger, 1897) '"!
Common names. (E) Everett’s Timor Treefrog. (G)
Everett-Laubfrosch. (T) Manduku ai Timor (manduku =
frog, ai = tree).
Known distribution. Litoria everetti (Figure 7) is
reported from a single locality in Ermera District (Table
2; see Kaiser et al., 2011).
New localities. None, but an additional specimen was
collected at the known locality.
Natural history. As with Limnonectes timorensis (see
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 81
above), our previous encounters with this frog were in
2009, only on the Meleotegi River (Ermera District;
Figure 6 (A) Juvenile Limnonectes timorensis from a grassy
patch at Afaloicai (USNM 580473, Locality 25). (B) Tadpole of L.
timorensis from the Meleotegi River (USNM 581286; Locality 8).
(C) Upper leg of an adult L. timorensis from the Meleotegi River
(USNM 579404, Locality 8), showing an embedded parasite (box).
(D) Tapeworm extracted from the animal in (C), presumably a
sparganum that is part of the host-parasite interaction described by
Goldberg et al. (2010). Photos (A) and (B) by Mark O'Shea, (C)
and (D) by Hinrich Kaiser.
82 Asian Herpetological Research
Locality 8), when we collected two specimens. During
2011 we collected a third specimen (USNM 579408)
at the same location. This specimen was discovered
underneath a rock on a small rocky island in midstream,
and it attempted to escape by jumping into the flowing
water. After this initial escape attempt, it remained
motionless on the bottom of a slow-flowing portion of the
river, where it was easily captured.
Family Microhylidae — Narrow-mouthed Toads
Kaloula sp. "* ""!
Common names. (E) Timor Pumpkin Bullfrog. (G)
Timor-Ochsenfrosch. (T) Manduku lakeru (manduku =
frog, lakeru = pumpkin).
Identification. Kaloula sp. is a small rotund frog with a
blunt head and highly tuberculate dorsum (Figure 8A).
The limbs are short, the toes unwebbed. Coloration
consists of a mixture of olive green and light brown
blotches. The only Timorese frogs with which this
species could be confused are Asian black-spined toads
(Duttaphrynus melanostictus), from which it can be
separated by its smaller size, longer fingers and toes,
discrete tympanum, the lack of cranial crests, parotoid
glands, and black tipped tubercles.
Known distribution. There are no previous reports of
this species from Timor Island or Timor-Leste.
New localities. Specimens collected in 2011, in southern
Manufahi District (within the grounds of the Franciscan
Convent of St. Antony d'Lisboa, Fatucahi; Locality
19) constitute the first records of this species, genus,
and family for Timor Island. Two relatively juvenile
specimens collected in 2012, in the wet coastal forest at
Nancuro (Locality 20) represent the first records of the
taxon from Manatuto District. These two localities are
only 10 km apart.
Natural history. Within the grounds of the Franciscan
Convent of St. Antony d'Lisboa we encountered four
species of anurans, three of which (Duttaphrynus
melanostictus, Fejervarya sp., Polypedates cf.
leucomystax) are widespread in Timor-Leste. However,
we also collected numerous specimens of Kaloula sp.
at night in the vegetable gardens, on the rubbish dump,
and around the convent wall. One specimen was found
on a low tree axil approximately 45 cm from the ground,
whereas all others were encountered at ground level,
including under rocks together with D. melanostictus. A
series of ten specimens was vouchered (USNM 579246-
The juvenile specimens collected at Nancuro (USNM
580464—65) were found on the forest floor in deep leaf
litter. They demonstrated much more vivid markings than
the adults from Fatucahi, in the form of a series of black-
edged, bright orange flashes across the flanks anterior to
the hind limbs, on the inner surfaces of the thighs, and
on the proximal portions of the hind limbs (Figure 8B).
Figure 7 Female Litoria everetti found underneath a flat rock
alongside the Meleotegi River, Ermera District (Locality 8; USNM
5779394). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Figure 8 (A) Adult female Kaloula sp. (USNM 579254) from
the grounds of the Convent of St. Antony d'Lisboa near Fatucahi,
Manufahi District (Locality 19). (B) Juvenile Kaloula sp. from wet
forest in the Nancuro Protected Area (Locality 20; USNM 580464)
showing the characteristic flash colors on the posterior part of the
body in juveniles of this form. Photos by Mark O'Shea.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
These markings were exposed when the frogs made short
hops and presumably constitute aposematic eyespots to
deter potential predators, as has been well-documented
for frogs of the genus Physalaemus (Wells, 2010).
Taxonomic comments. There are no previous records
of Kaloula, or any microhylid frog, from the island of
Timor, but three species of Kaloula are reported to occur
on other islands in Indonesia. Kaloula pulchra Gray,
1831 has been reported from Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi,
and Flores (Barbour, 1912; Dunn, 1928; Mertens, 1930),
and it 1s unclear whether these populations are native
or introduced. The same problem exists for K. baleata
(Müller, 1833), which occurs on Bali, Borneo, Java,
Komodo, Sulawesi, Sumatra, and Sumba (Dunn, 1928;
Iskandar, 1998; McKay, 2006); the Western Australian
Museum holds specimens from Flores and Lembata
(Paul Doughty, pers. comm.). A population listed as “K.
albotuberculata" by Inger and Voris (2001) may represent
an endemic taxon found exclusively in central Sulawesi;
the listing of this name, based on a manuscript by Djoko
Iskandar, has created a nomen nudum, which was referred
to as “Kaloula sp. n.” by Koch (2012). Kaloula baleata,
as currently defined, is certainly a polymorphic taxon that
contains at least three species in addition to the recently
described K. indochinensis Chan et al., 2013 and K.
latidisca Chan et al., 2014 (Rafe Brown, pers. comm.),
and it seems likely that K. pulchra is a species complex as
well. Specimens from the Lesser Sundas may well have
been allocated to these two species without comparison
to specimens from the type localities (Java for K. baleata
and China for K. pulchra) and may therefore constitute
undescribed species. Detailed examinations by one of us
(HK) of the Timor specimens now housed in the USNM
leads us to believe that they represent an undescribed
species of Kaloula. True K. baleata and K. pulchra may
be separated by the degree of toe webbing (webbing
reaching the middle subarticular tubercle on the inner
edge of the fourth toe in K. baleata, but not extending
beyond the basal subarticular tubercle in K. pulchra
(Inger, 1966), but the Timor material does not comply
with either arrangement. The detailed morphological and
morphometric information provided by Chan et al. (2013,
2014) to assist with delineating species boundaries in the
K. baleata complex provides an excellent opportunity for
determining the taxonomic status of the Timor population.
On the basis of our discovery, and pending comparative
examination of the Timor specimens with other Lesser
Sunda and extralimital material of K. baleata sensu lato,
we assign the specimens from Fatucahi and Nancuro to
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 83
Family Rhacophoridae — Afro-Asian Foam-nest
Polypedates cf. leucomystax !
Common names. (E) Striped Treefrog, Four-lined
Treefrog. (G) Weifbart-Ruderfrosch. (T) Manduku ai-
riskadu (manduku = frog, ai = tree, riskadu = striped) or
manduku loron (manduku = frog, loron = sunlight).
Known distribution. Polypedates cf. leucomystax
(Figure 9) is so far known from eight of Timor-Leste’s 13
districts (Table 2): Ainaro, Baucau, Dili, Ermera, Lautém,
Manufahi, Oecusse, and Viqueque (Kaiser et al., 2011;
O'Shea et al., 2012; Sanchez et al., 2012).
New localities. In 2011 we collected specimens at the
confluence of the Comoro and Bemos Rivers, along the
Liquiça bank (see Duttaphrynus melanostictus account;
Locality 6), on the south coast (grounds of the Franciscan
Convent of St. Antony d'Lisboa, Fatucahi, Manufahi
District; Locality 19), and in the Mt. Debululik area
(north of Tilomar, Covalima District; Locality 15). The
Liquiga and Covalima specimens represent new district
records (Table 2).
Bobonaro specimens were collected by ZAS from all
three of his study sites: the Soto River and Ramaskora
rice paddies (Locality 10) and the Galosapulu swamp
(Locality 12). These are our first records of Polypedates
from Bobonaro District.
In 2012 we collected two specimens in the grounds of
the Timor Lodge Hotel (Comoro, Dili District; Locality
1) and vouchered a series of specimens from near Baguia
(Baucau District; Localities 24 and 25), near Balibo
(Bobonaro District; Locality 9), and from the south coast
in the wet coastal forest at Nancuro (Locality 20), this last
record constituting a first record for Manatuto District.
The only district without records of Polypedates cf.
leucomystax is Aileu, and despite of our efforts on three
collecting trips to Ataüro Island no frog vouchers were
collected there (Kaiser et al., 2013b).
Natural history. These treefrogs were found exclusively
in microhabitats with some form of water storage
capacity, sometimes in unexpected circumstances. For
example, specimens found in village gardens along the
Comoro River (Dili District; Locality 6; USNM 579395—
96) were discovered by peeling back the stem leaves at
the bases of banana plants (Musa sp.), where runoff water
collects. These banana plots had recently undergone an
agricultural slash-and-burn, yet several of the banana
plant stems were found to harbor treefrogs. Striped
treefrogs were also seen in the freshly mown grassy
vegetation of the grounds of the Franciscan Convent
(USNM 579256—62), where moisture is retained well and
84 Asian Herpetological Research
where disturbed insects provide abundant food. Treefrogs
were also fairly abundant near upland rice paddies at
Ossohuna and Afaloicai (Baucau District; Locality 25;
USNM 580453) at an elevation of 712 m. Another of
our highest-elevation specimens (elev. 706 m; USNM
579263) came from a rock pile in the Mt. Debululik area
(Covalima District; Locality 15), while specimen found
on the ground in bamboo litter at Ossohuna (Baucau
District; Locality 25; USNM 580452) occurred at 938 m.
The highest elevation recorded for P. cf. leucomystax was
1074 m for a specimen curiously found under a rock on an
exposed step-cultivated grassy hillside above Maganuto
village, almost midway between, but still a considerable
distance from, a large stand of bamboo and a stunted elfin
forest growing in the shadow of Mt. Leolaco, Bobonaro
District (Locality 11; USNM 580457).
Striped treefrogs found in anthropogenic habitats
included a small series (USNM 580458—63) collected in a
significantly degraded forest at Fiuren village, Bobonaro
District. Curiously, these frogs were found in leaf litter
or buttress roots close to the forest floor, despite the
entire area being drastically altered by a large population
of domestic pigs. The presence of the pigs resulted in a
low number of terrestrial reptiles encountered, yet the
treefrogs endured. Another treefrog was found at night,
perched on the branch of a tree growing within the ruins
of an old school (Escola do Reino de Haudere) near
Baguia (Baucau District; Locality 24; USNM 580451).
In a more natural environment, our single Manatuto
specimen (Locality 20; USNM 580456) was found inside
a hollow log.
Taxonomic comments. The taxonomic status of P. cf.
leucomystax is discussed in previous reports (Kaiser et
al., 2011; O’Shea et al., 2012) and will not be elaborated
upon here. The taxonomy of the P. leucomystax species
complex is currently under investigation (Rafe Brown,
pers. comm.; Hidetoshi Ota, pers. comm.). Polypedates
leucomystax has generally been considered a widespread
Asian species that also occurs on many islands across the
Sunda Shelf. However, P. leucomystax sensu stricto may
not extend further east than Bali, into the Lesser Sunda
Archipelago, although molecular data for the Lesser
Sundas is still lacking (Brown et al., 2010; Kuraishi et
al., 2013; Kuraishi et al., 2011). Specimens from Nusa
Tenggara Province, including those from the island of
Timor, could represent introduced populations originating
in the Greater Sunda area, or they could be a regionally
endemic, hitherto unrecognized Lesser Sunda species.
LIZARDS (ORDER LACERTILIA)
Family Agamidae—Agamas and Dragon Lizards
Draco timoriensis Kuhl, 1820 "YY" V!
Common names. (E) Timor Flying Dragon, Timor
Flying Lizard. (G) Timor-Flugdrache. (T) Teki liras (teki
= gecko, liras = winged). In direct translation, the Tetun
name more accurately describes the gekkonid genus
Ptychozoon, which is not found east of Wallace’s Line.
We believe that the common name of D. timoriensis is
not an indication that local residents are unable to tell a
gecko from an agamid lizard. Instead, it may reflect the
assumption that lizards of comparable size are likely
geckos, an error culturally perpetuated by the lack of
opportunities to catch more than a fleeting glance at an
individual because of the Draco lifestyle.
Known distribution. Draco timoriensis (Figure 10)
is currently reported from five of Timor-Leste’s 13
districts (Table 3): Baucau, Lautém, Liquiga, Oecusse,
and Viqueque (Kaiser et al., 2011; O’Shea et al., 2012;
Sanchez et al., 2012). There are no records of any Draco
species from Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b), a
location surrounded by islands where Draco have been
recorded, but islanders are adamant that they do not occur
there (O'Shea and Kaiser, 2013).
New localities. During 2011 and 2012 we obtained
additional specimens from Lautém District, from Com
(Locality 26) and Raga (Locality 27). New district records
were established for Manufahi District through the
collection of specimens in the Betano area on the south
coast (Locality 18), and from several localities around
Same (Locality 17): in the mountains, in the grounds of
the Ailelehun Guest House, and at Ladiki village, 5 km
NE of Same. Southern coastal records came from the
Nancuro coastal forest (Manatuto District; Locality 20),
the grounds of Castelo Fronteira Guest House in Suai
(Covalima District; Locality 13), and two sites outside
of Tilomar (Covalima District; Locality 15), namely
the Tilomar Forest Reserve and just N of Maubesi. On
the north side of Timor we obtained a single specimen
from the Meleotegi River (Ermera District; Locality 8),
as well as a specimen from Dare, in the hills above Dili
(Dili District; locality 4). The vouchers from Manufahi,
Manatuto, Covalima, Ermera, and Dili are first district
records and this doubles the number of districts from
which Draco timoriensis has been recorded to ten (Table
Natural history. Although a relatively small and slender
species, Draco timoriensis is a fairly conspicuous lizard.
It is usually seen running up the trunks of coconut
palms or smooth-barked eucalypts and 1f pursued will
easily leap and glide gracefully to another tree. It clearly
exhibits a wide distribution, both on the southern and
Mark O'SHEA et al.
Figure 9 Adult Polypedates cf. leucomystax from a creek-side
tree near Ossohuna (USNM 580454, Locality 25). Photo by Mark
northern coasts, including the Oecusse exclave (Sanchez
et al., 2012), and it is relatively common at elevations
only marginally above sea level (e.g., at 3 m in the
Nancuro wet coastal forest, Manatuto District; Locality
20; USNM 579298; at 3 m on a tree opposite the wharf
at Com, Lautém District; Locality 26; USNM 579491).
We also obtained specimens at significantly higher
elevations, on the upland limestone plateaus and central
mountains of Timor-Leste (e.g., at 412 m elevation on
trees around Raga village, Lautém District; Locality 27;
USNM 579310—12, 579490; on forest trees at 442 m
elevation near Tilomar, Covalima District; Locality 15;
USNM 579302—04; and at 600 m elevation on a large
tree, opposite the war memorial at Dare, Dili District;
Locality 14; USNM 579711). The Meleotegi River
specimen (Ermera District; Locality 8; USNM 579492)
was collected at 1177 m, and constitutes the highest
elevation record for D. timoriensis we have observed on
Family Gekkonidae — True Geckos
Cyrtodactylus spp. "Y ‘™"
Common names. (E) Bent-toed Geckos, Bow-fingered
Geckos. (G) Bogenfinger-Geckos. (T) Teki ain-fuan kleuk
(Teki = small gecko, kluek = bent, ain-fuan = toe).
Known distribution. During our initial survey in 2009
we collected two geckos of the genus Cyrtodactylus in
Timor-Leste (see Taxonomic comment below). This
population, currently referred to as Cyrtodactylus sp.
‘Trilolo River,’ was collected 4 km north of Same
(Manufahi District; Locality 17; Kaiser et al., 2011). In
2010 we collected a single specimen of Cyrtodactylus sp.
*Manucoco' on the northwestern slopes of Mt. Manucoco
on Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b), and a series of ten
vouchers of a third population, Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Abanat
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 85
Figure 10 Adult female Draco timoriensis from a tree at Dare
(USNM 579711, Locality 4). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
River,’ in the Oecusse exclave (Sanchez et al., 2012).
Populations of Cyrtodactylus are therefore known from
two mainland districts (Manufahi, Oecusse) and from
Ataüro Island (Dili District) so far (Table 3).
New localities. During 2011 we discovered further
populations of Cyrtodactylus (Figure 11) over a wide
area of Timor-Leste. Specimens collected at sea level on
Ataüro Island (USNM 579712-25) are being treated as
Cyrtodactylus sp. *Ataüro coast’ (Kaiser et al., 2013b).
Additionally, we located two more populations in Lautém
District, along the north coast at Com (Figure 11B;
Locality 26; USNM 579411—-23) and on the adjacent
limestone plateau, at Raga (Figure 11A; Locality 27;
USNM 579313, 579408-09), and near the Mainina
sinkhole (Locality 29; USNM 579410, 579424) (see
Taxonomic comment below).
During 2012 four further populations of Cyrtodactylus
were discovered and sampled: from a network of man-
made tunnels at Venilale, Baucau District (Figure 11C;
Locality 22; USNM 580474—84); in the coastal forest
at Nancuro, Manatuto District (Figure 11D; Locality
20; USNM 580485-86); near Maganuto village, in the
mountains surrounding Maliana, Bobonaro District
(Figure 11E; Locality 11; USNM 580457), and in Fiuren
village, near Balibo, Bobonaro District (Figure 11F;
Locality 9; USNM 580488). At an altitude of 1036 m, the
Maganuto locality is the highest record for these geckos
In the summer of 2013, we discovered yet another
population of bent-toed geckos in the vicinity of
Com (Locality 26; USNM 581153—54), one clearly
distinct from the small-bodied form we found in 2011.
Cyrtodactylus spp. have now been recorded from six
mainland districts and Ataüro Island (Table 3).
Natural history. The only general habitat requirement
86 Asian Herpetological Research Vol. 6
Table 3 Records of lizard species for the districts of Timor-Leste. Black circles indicate previously known records, red circles denote new
records. The black open circle refers to a literature record only. Records listed in grey denote literature records from West Timor, with open
circles representing known museum specimens.
Taxon o E S E mi © S g S $ E g - S References"
2 5 § 3 'c S 85 8 $ s 5 43 8 |E
2 B8 8 8 6 zBuilb 8 e 3 8 $3 P E
«x 4 à m o ACASA A A Ss z 6 P JE
Draco timoriensis e e e e (3 e e e e e 1-4
Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Trilolo River’ e. 1
Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Manucoco’ e. 5
Cyrtodactylus sp. ' Ataüro coast? e. 5
Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Abanat River’ e. 3
Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Plateau’ e. 4
Cyrtodactylus sp. 'Com small e. 4
Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Com large’ e. 4
Cyrtodactylus celatus O 6
Cyrtodactylus sp. incertae sedis e. e. e. 4
Gehyra mutilata e. e. e. e. e. e. 1,4
Gekko gecko e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. 1-5
Hemidactylus frenatus e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. 1-5
Hemidactylus cf. garnotii e. 4
Hemidactylus platyurus e. e. e. e. e. e. e. 1-4
Hemidactylus tenkatei [7 e. e. e. 1-4
Hemiphyllodactylus cf. typus e. 4
Carlia peronii O 7
Carlia spinauris O 7,8
Carlia sp. ‘Maubisse’ e. 1
Carlia sp. ‘Meleotegi River’ e. 1,2
Carlia sp. ‘South Coast e. e. ° e 1,2,4
Carlia sp. ‘Baucau’ e. 1,2
Carlia sp. ‘Abanat River’ e. 3
Carlia sp. incertae sedis e. 4
Cryptoblepharus leschenault e. e. e. 9 1,2,4,5
Cryptoblepharus sp. ‘Bakhita’ e. 2
Cryptoblepharus cf. schlegelianus e. e. O 4,9
Eremiascincus antoniorum O 10
Eremiascincus cf. timorensis e. O 4,10
Eremiascincus sp. ‘Ermera’ e. 4
Eremiascincus sp. ‘Montane’ e. e. 1,2
Eremiascincus sp. *Lautém" e. 1,2
Eremiascincus sp. ‘Jaco’ e. 4
Eremiascincus sp. * Ataüro* e. 5
Eutropis cf. multifasciata e. e. e. e. e. e. 1-5
Lamprolepis smaragdina cf. elberti e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e. 1-5
Sphenomorphus cf. melanopogon e. e. 1,2,4
Sphenomorphus sp. ‘Highland large’ e. 1,2
Sphenomorphus sp. incertae sedis e. e. e. e e 1,2,4
Varanus timorensis e e e e O e 1,2,4,11
Varanus cf. salvator e. 5
"References are identified numerically as follows: 1 = Kaiser et al., 2011; 2 = O'Shea et al., 2012; 3 = Sanchez et al., 2012; 4 = this paper;
5 = Kaiser et al., 2013b; 6 = Kathriner et al., 2014; 7 = Zug, 2010; 8 = Smith, 1927; 9 = Brongersma, 1942; 10 = Aplin et al., 1993; 11 =
Bethencourt Ferreira, 1898.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
for representatives of this versatile gecko genus on Timor
appears to be the availability of hiding places. Beyond
this, we have encountered representatives of putative,
undescribed species in habitats ranging from the wall of a
cave in limestone karst (Raga, Locality 27) to the vertical
walls of man-made tunnels (Venilale, Locality 22), and
from wet lowland forest (Nancuro, Locality 20) to dry
montane forest (Maganuto, Locality 11). Having had all
of these encounters, it appears obvious to us that members
of Cyrtodactylus on Timor display a considerable
ecological plasticity when it comes to colonizing new
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 87
habitats and adapting.
On Ataüro Island, the lowland population appears to
occur in most sampled habitats from near-coastal cliffs
to disturbed localities, such as plantations or residential
areas. Whereas the majority of our specimens came
from areas near a source of water (e.g., in proximity to
a riverbed, a shallow ravine with water run-off), some
were found under rocks in Barry's Place Ecoresort, or by
rolling palm logs and pulling apart palm leaf piles in a
Some of the microhabitats where we discovered
Figure 11 Species of Cyrtodactylus in Timor-Leste. These six individuals represent populations of bent-toed geckos we consider distinct at
the species level (Kathriner et al., in prep.). We refer to them here by their localities. (A) Adult specimen (sex not determined, SVL = 60 mm)
of the ‘Plateau’ population from the wall of a limestone karst cave near Raça (USNM 579408, Locality 27). (B) Adult male (SVL = 42 mm)
of the small north coast bent-toed gecko from the ruin of the Portuguese pousada at Com (USNM 579412, Locality 26). (C) Adult male (SVL
= 55 mm) from a wall in the man-made tunnels at Venilale (USNM 580474, Locality 22). (D) Adult female (SVL = 41 mm) from inside a
rotten log in the coastal wet forest at Nancuro (USNM 580486, Locality 20). (E) Adult individual (sex not determined, SVL — 44 mm) from a
dry rotting tree in the alpine habitat at Maganuto (USNM 580487, Locality 11). (F) Adult male (SVL = 40 mm) from a fallen log in disturbed
dry forest at Fiuren (USNM 580488, Locality 9).
88 Asian Herpetological Research
Cyrtodactylus include oddities. For example, our highest
elevation specimen (1036 m, Maganuto; Locality 11) was
recovered from the inside of a decaying tree that stood
isolated in an alpine meadow surrounded by very little
vegetation. Our search there was focused on H. garnotii
(see below), individuals of which we had found nearby
in decaying bamboo microhabitat, and when breaking
apart the decaying wood, a single Cyrtodactylus was
discovered. A second unusual locality was the rather
disturbed forest habitat in Fiuren (Locality 9) that
appeared to endure regular disturbance from the foraging
activity of a group of free-roaming domestic pigs. The
most unusual locality, however, were the roadside tunnels
at Venilale (Locality 22). These tunnels were dug by
forced labor during the Japanese occupation of Timor in
the 1940s, and upon our first visit to the locality in 2009
we did not even consider conducting a careful search
for reptiles there. While showing this locality to some
of our team members in 2012, however, we chanced
upon a gecko at head height on the surface of a vertical
tunnel wall. Our subsequent, careful search revealed
several additional specimens distributed throughout
the tunnel system, including all tunnel surfaces (sides,
floor, and ceiling), and in both exposed positions as well
as underneath rocky debris. There was no evidence of
standing or running water in the tunnels, although the air
was cool and the humidity high.
Taxonomic comments. Cyrtodactylus is the largest genus
in the Gekkonidae, indeed the most speciose in the entire
Gekkota, a highly diverse group that comprises seven
families, over 100 genera, and around 1400 species.
Cyrtodactylus currently comprises one eighth of that
diversity (199 species; Uetz and Hošek, 2014; Wood
et al., 2012), distributed from Tibet, China and India
to northern Australia (Western Australia, Queensland)
and east across the Indonesian island chain and New
Guinea into the Solomon Islands, with new species
being described at considerable frequency. Despite the
geographic position of Timor near the center of this range,
the only previous record of the genus from the territory
of what is now Timor-Leste was a single specimen of
*Gymnodactylus timorensis’ listed by Duméril and Bibron
(1836). However, this specimen is neither a member
of the genus Cyrtodactylus, nor did it originate from
anywhere close to the island of Timor (L. L. Grismer, in
prep.; HK, unpubl. data). Therefore, prior to the initiation
of this project, Timor-Leste was considered devoid of any
representatives of the genus Cyrtodactylus.
Our fieldwork soon proved this not to be the case
as the first six populations sampled during the project
were found to represent six different species, from at
least two different larger clades (AK, unpubl. data).
The Ataüro coastal population has similarities to the
regionally endemic C. darmandvillei (Weber, 1890) but
some morphological characteristics lead us to consider
this population as a potentially new species, here called
* Ataüro coast’ (Cyrtodactylus sp. 2 of Kaiser et al.,
2013b). We only possess a single specimen of the montane
Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Manucoco’ but it clearly represents a
different taxon from its lowland neighbor based on both
morphological and molecular data (AK, unpubl. data).
The five mainland populations also represent distinct
and separate species, which currently lack names and are
therefore documented here as Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Trilolo
River,’ Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Abanat River,’ Cyrtodactylus
sp. ‘Plateau’ (Figure 11A), Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Com
small’ (Figure 11B), and Cyrtodactylus sp. ‘Com large.’
The taxonomic status of the four more recently sampled
populations, from Venilale (Baucau District; Figure 11C),
Nancuro (Manatuto District; Figure 11D), and Maganuto
and Fiuren (both Bobobaro District; Figs. 11E and 11F,
respectively) has yet to be determined, and we list them
here as populations incertae sedis. In addition Kathriner
et al. (2014b) described C. celatus from near Kupang,
West Timor, from a single specimen collected in 1924 by
M. A. Smith, and deposited, then essentially forgotten, in
the Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom.
Three of the populations we discovered stand out
by their body size (up to 75 mm SVL), including the
highland karst dwellers at Raça and Mainina (Localities
27 and 29, respectively), the lowland coastal limestone
form at Com (Locality 26), and the lowland form
on Ataüro. A preliminary analysis of molecular data
(Kathriner et al., unpubl. data) indicates that the larger
mainland populations likely constitute a separate radiation
from the small-bodied forms (up to 46 mm SVL). While
it 1s too early to determine their exact phylogenetic
affinities or the vector by which they arrived on Timor,
there appears to have been sufficient time elapsed for the
two major radiations to adapt to diverse niches and to
diversify into an unexpectedly rich bent-toed gecko fauna.
Gehyra mutilata (Wiegmann, 1834
Common names. (E) Mutilated Gecko. (G) Vierklauen-
Gecko. (T) Teki kulit kanek (Teki = small gecko, kulit =
skin, kanek = injured).
Known distribution. Gehyra mutilata (Figure 12) has so
far been reported from only two districts (Table 3), from
Dili and Lautém, as well as on Mt. Manucoco, Ataüro
Island, Dili District (Kaiser et al., 2011, 2013b).
New localities. During the last four surveys additional
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
specimens were obtained from sea level to an elevation
of 572 m on Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b), and in
Lautém District from sea level habitats at Com (Locality
26) to the elevated central limestone plateau at Raca
(elevation > 400 m; Locality 27). Additional lowland
records from Phases IV-VII on the mainland came from
the confluence of the Comoro and Bemos Rivers (8 km
S of the Comoro River bridge, Liquiga District; Locality
6; USNM 579425), and the wet coastal forest at Nancuro
(Natarbora, 8 km S Umaboco, Manatuto District; Locality
20; USNM 581759), while upland localities include the
ruins of Escola do Reino de Haudere, Baguia (Baucau
District; Locality 24; USNM 580489), and the grazed
forest at Fiuren, near Balibo (Bobonaro District; Locality
9; USNM 580490—91). On the mainland Gehyra mutilata
has now been recorded from five districts, on both the
northern and southern coastal lowlands, at altitudes ^ 400
m in the central massif of Timor and > 570 m on Ataüro
Island (Table 3).
Natural history. Specimens of G. mutilata have been
recovered from the standard set of microhabitats typically
frequented by house geckos (see natural history comments
on the species of the genus Hemidactylus below). Most
frequently, these geckos were found associated with dry
wooden structures, such as the loose bark on decaying
trees, in dry leaf litter, or in the building materials used to
make traditional huts. They were also collected from the
walls of houses. Occasionally, a specimen was retrieved
from underneath dry rocks (such as in a rock pile) or by
rolling rocks in dry habitats.
Gekko gecko (Linnaeus, 1758) "YY"!
Common names. (E) Tokay Gecko. (G) Tokeh, Tokee,
Panthergecko. (T) Toke.
Known distribution. Gekko gecko (Figure 13) has so
far been reported from five of Timor-Leste’s 13 districts
(Lautém, Liquiga, Manufahi, Oecusse, and Viqueque;
Kaiser et al., 2011; O’Shea et al., 2012; Sanchez et al.,
2012) and from Atatro Island, Dili District (Kaiser et al.,
2013b) at elevations from near sea level to over 500 m
New localities. During 2011 and 2012 four more
mainland districts were documented as part of the range
for Gekko gecko in Timor-Leste (Baucau, Bobonaro, Dili,
Manatuto). Since this is an introduced species and there
are no arguments regarding its identity or taxonomy, we
collected only few voucher specimens whenever it was
encountered; some of our records therefore comprise a
voucher photograph rather than a specimen. In addition,
this is the most vocal member of the Gekkonidae on
the island of Timor, and it possesses a characteristic,
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 89
eponymous vocalization. Individuals issuing the
onomatopoeic “toh-kay” call are frequently heard in
forests, on rocky outcrops or buildings, both by night and
Voucher specimens were collected along the Comoro
River (Dili District; Locality 1; USNM 579314), at
Betano ‘dry site’ (Manufahi District; Locality 18;
USNM 579315), and near Raga (Lautém District;
Locality 27; USNM 579316-17). Voucher photographs
were contributed for the wet coastal forest at Nancuro
(Natarbora, 8 km S Umaboco, Manatuto District; Locality
20; USNM-HI 2824), Com village (Lautém District;
Locality 26; USNM-HI 2764), the ruins of Escola do
Reino de Haudere (Baguia, Baucau District; Locality
24; USNM-HI 2759-60), and from the grazed forest at
Fiuren (Bobobaro District; Locality 9; USNM-HI 2762).
Aural observations were made in the forest on Jaco
Island (Lautém District; Locality 30) and along a rocky
outcrop at Maganuto (Bobonaro District; Locality 11) for
specimens that could be heard but not seen. Gekko gecko
is now known from ten districts, including Ataüro Island
Natural history. Gekko gecko is the largest member of
the Gekkonidae in the Lesser Sunda Archipelago, and one
of the most visible elements of the gecko fauna anywhere.
As a predator of significant size (we encountered adult
specimens with SVL in excess of 22 cm), this is not a
species that needs to hide itself but tends to threaten
when disturbed. Our relatively frequent encounters with
this species have happened during both day and night
and we have seen adults, juveniles, and eggs containing
developing embryos (but destroyed by local children
as sport) during both wet and dry season surveys. This
species is familiar to the local population throughout
the country, and we believe its range encompasses all of
Hemidactylus frenatus Schlegel, 1836 "1
Common names. (E) Common House Gecko. (G)
Asiatischer Hausgecko. (T) Teki uma baibain frenatus
(teki = small gecko, uma = house, baibain = common).
Known distribution. Hemidactylus frenatus (Figure 14)
has so far been reported from seven of Timor-Leste’s
13 districts (Baucau, Dili, Lautém, Liquiga, Manatuto,
Oecusse, and Viqueque; Kaiser et al., 2011; O’Shea et al.,
2012; Sanchez et al., 2012) and from Atatro Island, Dili
District (Kaiser et al., 2013b) (Table 3).
New localities. We here report additional voucher
specimens from mainland Dili District on the shoreline
at Tasi Tolu, the grounds of the Timor Lodge Hotel, the
mangrove swamp at Metinaro, and from the Comoro
90 Asian Herpetological Research
Figure 12 Adult male Gehyra mutilata from a fallen log at Fiuren
(USNM 580490, Locality 9). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Figure 13 Subadult Gekko gecko still showing the distinct juvenile
tail pattern. This specimen was not vouchered. Photo by Mark
Figure 14 Adult Hemidactylus frenatus (sex not determined) from
the tidal rocks at Tasi Tolu, near Dili (USNM 580494, Locality 1).
This individual is a good example of the habitat plasticity displayed
by house geckos, as it was discovered in an area near the tidal
splash zone that it shared with individuals of Cryptoblepharus cf.
schlegelianus. Photo by Mark O'Shea.
River (Localities 1, 3 and 5; USNM 579726, 579731-32,
579736, 580494, 581746). Vouchers were also taken
at the confluence of the Comoro and Bemos Rivers, on
the Liquiga bank (Locality 6; USNM 579425, 579431).
Further specimens were obtained from Lautém District,
from Com at sea level, and from Raga on the central
limestone plateau (Localities 26 and 27; USNM 579428—
40, 581755—56). Other low-lying locations sampled
during 2011 and 2012 produced vouchers from both the
‘wet site’ and ‘dry site’ at Betano (Manufahi District;
Locality 18; USNM 581753—54), and the grounds of
the Castelo Fronteira Guest House, Suai (Covalima
District; Locality 13; USNM 581747). Vouchers were
also obtained from upland localities, such as the ruins
of the Escola do Reino de Haldere, Baguia (Baucau
District; Locality 24; USNM 580492-93). The Covalima
and Manufahi District records constitute first records for
these districts, elevating the number of districts where H.
frenatus has been recorded to nine (Table 3). We believe
that this species is likely found associated with human
disturbances almost anywhere on Timor Island, certainly
at elevations between sea level and 600 m (see Natural
history for H. cf. garnotii).
Natural history. Throughout all of our surveys, this
species is clearly the most frequently encountered gecko.
Due to its perianthropic lifestyle, it is encountered on the
walls of almost any human habitations. These geckos
are able to colonize even new construction rapidly and
indiscriminately, and they appear to live in clean hotel
rooms just as well as in natural vegetation, rock piles,
or even trash. We have not encountered them 1n pristine
habitats, with the exception of healthy-looking forest
areas experiencing some minor form of human impact,
such as those adjacent to coffee plantations. We believe
that the species exists in all of Timor-Leste's districts,
and we believe its arrival on the island and its dispersal
throughout the country may be correlated with historic
and current local trade patterns.
Hemidactylus cf. garnotii "™
Common names. (E) Indo-Pacific House Gecko. (G)
Indopazifischer Halbfinger-Gecko, Jungfern-Halbfinger-
Gecko. (T) Teki uma baibain garnotii (teki = small gecko,
uma = house, baibain = common).
Identification. Hemidactylus cf. garnotii (Figure 15) is
the fourth house gecko species (genus Hemidactylus)
recorded from Timor-Leste, and especially in preservative
it is one easily confused with the more common species
(e.g., H. frenatus, H. tenkatei). Specimens encountered in
Bobonaro were dark brown when collected, with several
longitudinal rows or dark-edged light spots on the dorsum
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
and a prominent ventrolateral series of white spines along
the edge of the tail. The dorsal color paled in captivity
but the light spots and white caudal spines were still in
evidence. Hemidactylus cf. garnotii can be distinguished
from H. platyurus by a tail that is not dorsoventrally
flattened and by the absence of skin webbing and fringing
associated with tail, digits, limbs, and flanks; from
H. tenkatei by the absence of that species' distinctive
longitudinal rows of raised dorsal tubercles, and from
H. frenatus by a series of small scales that separate the
2™ pair of postmental scales from the infralabials (both
pairs of postmentals are in contact with the infralabials
in H. frenatus). Hemidactylus frenatus also has four
longitudinal rows of elevated spines on its original tail,
whereas in H. cf. garnotii the character of tubercle rows
is limited to two lateral rows. Hemidactylus cf. garnotii
is easily distinguished from Gehyra mutilata by its longer
and flatter snout and the pattern of chin scales. Several
of our specimens had symmetrical calcium deposits
in the neck area (Figure 15B), which is something we
never observed in the other house gecko species found in
Known distribution. There were no previous records of
this species for Timor-Leste.
New localities. Hemidactylus cf. garnotii was
encountered only during the survey in 2012 (Phase VII)
when seven vouchers were collected in the bamboo
forest above Maganuto, near Maliana (Bobonaro District;
Locality 11; USNM 580495—501) and a single voucher
obtained from the degraded, grazed forest at Fiuren, near
Balibo (Bobonaro District; Locality 9; USNM 580502).
The Fiuren specimen came from an elevation of 463 m
but the Maganuto specimens were collected at 1041—1063
m on the slopes of Mt. Leolaco at an altitude far above
that recorded for any other Hemidactylus species in
Natural history. The seven specimens collected in the
bamboo forest above Maganuto were mostly sheltering
at the bases of bamboo leaf-axils or in termite-inhabited
dead bamboo stalks, but one specimen was found
under a rock and another behind the bark of a tree in
close proximity to the bamboo. Several specimens had
regenerated tails, and one (USNM 580498) had lost both
its left fore- and hind limbs but had healed and survived
the trauma. The Fiuren specimen, containing two eggs,
was also found inside a clump of bamboo.
Hemidactylus garnotii Duméril and Bibron, 1836
is an all-female parthenogenetic species and should be
considered a good colonizer: only a single adult female
is needed to produce eggs to establish a new colony. It is
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 91
therefore somewhat surprising that its reproductive ability
has not made this species more prevalent in Timor-Leste.
We believe that it may be its reduced genetic variability,
inherent in clonally reproducing organisms, that gives this
species only few options to successfully compete with
aggressive bisexual species, such as H. frenatus or H.
tenkatei. If it is difficult for H. garnotii to live in sympatry
with other house geckos, unlike Gehyra mutilata or H.
platyurus, its presence and apparent success on the slopes
of Mt. Leolaco at elevations above 1000 m might be
explained by the fact that no other house geckos have yet
been found above 563 m in mainland Timor-Leste.
Taxonomic comments. Hemidactylus garnotii is a
colonizing species, which we would most expect to
encounter in coastal lowland beachheads. Whilst the
Fiuren record came from a locality which was at an
intermediate elevation (463 m) and heavily influenced by
human activities, both being common factors associated
with colonizing species, the majority of our specimens
were collected at Maganuto, on the slopes of Mt Leolaco
at an elevation considerably above that documented
for any other Timor Hemidactylus (1041-1063 m), in a
habitat that seemed to us incompatible with a colonizing
species such as H. garnotii due to its remoteness and
high elevation. This leads us to wonder if this taxon is an
undescribed species of garnotii-like Hemidactylus, but in
the absence of any males we cannot as yet differentiate it
morphologically from true H. garnotii. We therefore refer
to it as Hemidactylus cf. garnotii.
Hemidactylus platyurus (Schneider, 1792) "Y
Common names. (E) Common Flat-tailed Gecko. (G)
Saumschwanz-Hausgecko. (T) Teki ikun belar (teki =
small gecko, belar = flat, ikun = tail).
Known distribution. Hemidactylus platyurus (Figure
16) has so far been reported from six of Timor-Leste’s 13
districts (Dili, Lautém, Liquica, Manatuto, Oecusse, and
Viqueque; see Kaiser et al., 2011; O’Shea et al., 2012;
Sanchez et al., 2012). It has not been recorded on Ataüro
Island (Table 3; see Kaiser et al., 2013b).
New localities. Additional specimens were collected
in 2011 in Lautém District, near sea level on the north
coast at Com (Locality 26; USNM 579445-47) and at
520 m elevation, 5 km N of Maubesi (Tilomar, Covalima
District, Locality 15; USNM 581757—58). This is a little
lower than our elevation record for H. platyurus at 545
m near Dare, Dili District (Locality 4; USNM 579112)
during Phase III. Covalima is the seventh district from
which we have recorded H. platyurus (Table 3).
Natural history. This is another of the perianthropic
house gecko species, though it is seen around human
92 Asian Herpetological Research
Figure 15 Adult Hemidactylus cf. garnotii from a bamboo stand
above Maganuto (USNM 580502, Locality 11). This individual
shows the presence of mature eggs and gular calcium deposits.
Photo by Mark O'Shea.
habitations in considerably lower numbers than either
H. frenatus or H. tenkatei. In each of the new localities,
other house geckos were present, although not all
cohabiting gecko species were vouchered. The two
Maubesi specimens were found on a roadside tree that
initially caught our attention because of the presence of
a monitor lizard (Varanus; see below). After capturing
the monitor lizard, we managed to obtain both specimens
from a height of ca. 5 m above ground level. Both of
the specimens caught in Com were found along with
individuals of H. frenatus and H. tenkatei 1n the rafters
of the cabins at Com Beach Resort and on stone walls
surrounding the compound.
Hemidactylus tenkatei van Lidth de Jeude, 1895 "YY"!
Common names. (E) Roti House Gecko. (G) Roti-
Hausgecko. (T) Teki uma baibain Roti (teki = small
gecko, uma = house, baibain = common).
Identification. Hemidactylus tenkatei (Figure 17) can be
distinguished from H. frenatus by the presence of 16-20
longitudinal rows of large, strongly keeled tubercles,
Figure 16 Adult Hemidactylus platyurus (sex not determined) from
the wall of a building at the Com Beach Resort (USNM 579447,
Locality 26). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
as opposed to the numerous scattered, small conical
tubercles of its more common congener. It also lacks
the broad, flattened, filamentous-edged tail and strongly
webbed toes of H. platyurus. Hemidactylus tenkatei may
be distinguished from Gehyra mutilata by its chin shields,
which are arranged to form a smoothly arched posterior
border in the latter species, and from H. garnotii by the
presence of enlarged keeled tubercles on its dorsum.
Known distribution. Hemidactylus tenkatei had
previously only been recorded from Liquiga and Oecusse
Districts (Table 3; see O’Shea et al., 2012; Sanchez et al.,
New localities. We here report new district records for
H. tenkatei from Dili District at Timor Lodge Hotel, Dili
(Locality 1; USNM 579728—30) and Metinaro mangrove
swamp (Locality 3; USNM 579733), and from Lautém
District at Com Beach Resort (Locality 26; USNM
579417, 579430, 579441—44), elevating the number of
districts from which this introduced species has been
recorded to four. All records are from elevations below
25 m and from northern coastal locations, indicative of
Figure 17 Adult Hemidactylus tenkatei (sex not determined) from
a wall in the grounds of the Timor Lodge Hotel in Dili (USNM
581158, Locality 1). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
an invading species establishing bridgeheads. The lack
of any specimens of H. tenkatei further inland could be a
result of its recent arrival, its inability to compete with the
already established H. frenatus, H. platyurus, or Gehyra
mutilata, or its adaptation to a microhabitat that currently
remains undiscovered. At our accommodation in Dili, the
Timor Lodge Hotel, we have noticed an increase in the
abundance of H. tenkatei relative to H. frenatus over the
five-year period of our survey work, but this observation
will require further verification.
Natural history. We collected six specimens of what we
initially believed to be H. frenatus from trees and rocks in
the center of a seasonally dry riverbed, west of Maubara
(Liquiga District: locality 3) on 6 February 2010 (Phase
II). Upon later examination, one of these (USNM 579064)
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
was re-identified as H. cf. tenkatei (A. M. Bauer, pers.
comm.), the first specimen of the perianthropic H. brookii
complex recorded from Timor-Leste. With a distribution
of this species complex ranging from Pakistan and Indian
Ocean islands to the Philippines and south into the Lesser
Sunda archipelago (Bauer et al., 2010), ancestors of
Timorese H. tenkatei may have found their way onto
Roti Island, the type locality of H. tenkatei, and later on
to Timor Island by stowing away with neolithic human
migrants and their chattels.
Taxonomic comments. Geckos called Hemidactylus
brookii exist 1n museum collections from throughout
South and Southeast Asia, and the broad distribution
and the likely influence of historical human trading and
colonization patterns has led to an inconsistent use of
names for these forms. Recently, Bauer et al. (2010)
completed a molecular analysis, in which they restricted
the distribution of true H. brookii to Borneo, Peninsular
Malaysia, Burma, and Karnataka State in India. However,
their analysis conspicuously excluded data from islands
of the Indonesian Archipelago, notated with a centrally
placed question mark in their distribution map (Figure 1
in Bauer et al., 2010).
The species H. tenkatei was described by van Lidth de
Jeude (1895) based on three specimens from Roti, a small
(1200 km’) island off the extreme southwestern corner
of Timor. Two decades later, de Rooij (1915) placed the
species into the synonymy of H. brookii after a limited
study of specimens from Flores and Wetar, presumably
with literature accounts then available, but without the
presentation of data. In two recent revisions of the H.
brookii group, of which H. tenkatei is a member, Rósler
and Glaw (2010) and Mahony (2011) removed H. tenkatei
from the synonymy of H. brookii, but did not examine
the relevant type material. Addition of these important
specimens to the analysis, along with the Bornean type
material of H. brookii and molecular data for specimens
from Timor-Leste to the data set of Bauer eft al. (2010),
shows that H. tenkatei is a species distinct from H.
brookii and that Timorese populations are indeed identical
to those on Roti (Kathriner et al., 2014a). Furthermore, it
appears that the species H. tenkatei is a widespread and
successful colonizer found not only in the Lesser Sundas
but also in Sarawak, Borneo, and Penang Island, Malaysia
(Kathriner et al., 2014a), and that these populations can
therefore all be referred to H. tenkatei.
Hemiphyllodactylus cf. typus
Common names. (E) Dwarf Tree Gecko. (G)
Zigeunergecko, Gewóhnlicher Halbblattfinger-Gecko. (T)
Teki ai isin lotuk (teki = gecko, ai = tree, isin lotuk = very
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 93
Identification. Hemiphyllodactylus cf. typus (Figure 18)
is the smallest gecko in the region and easily overlooked,
as it had been during six previous phases of our survey.
This is an extremely slender, etiolated gecko, its body
so elongated that the adpressed limbs do not overlap or
even come into contact. It can be distinguished from
Hemidactylus spp. by its clawless 1* digit, a characteristic
it only shares with members of the genus Lepidodactylus,
a taxon as yet unrecorded from Timor, and the complete
lack of any enlarged postmental scales in the chin region.
In L. lugubris the clawless 1“ digit is otherwise well
developed, being at least two-thirds the length of the 2"
digit, whereas in H. cf. typus the 1* digit is much reduced
Known distribution. There were no previous records of
this genus from Timor-Leste.
New localities. Two specimens of Hemiphyllodactylus cf.
typus were collected at Ossohuna, near Baguia (Baucau
District; Locality 25) during Phase VIII, the first record of
the taxon from Timor Island.
Natural history. The only two specimens of H. cf. typus
(USNM 580503—04) found in Timor-Leste so far were
collected in a clump of bamboo in a dry river gorge,
sheltering behind the leaf-like culm sheaths that protect
the base of the bamboo shoots. Their movements, when
uncovered, were slow, meaning they did not ‘scamper’ as
do many species of Hemidactylus.
Taxonomic comments. The Indo-Pacific genus
Hemiphyllodactylus contains as many as 20 species
although most exhibit fairly or extremely localized
distributions (Zug, 2010b; Grismer et al., 2013, 2014).
The one widespread species is the parthenogenetic H.
typus Bleeker, 1860, which is found from southern
Myanmar and Taiwan of China to New Guinea and across
the South Pacific to Fiji and Tonga, with established but
isolated populations in Sri Lanka, the Mascarene Islands,
Figure 18 Adult Hemiphyllodactylus cf. typus from a bamboo
stand near Ossohuna (USNM 580503, Locality 25). Photo by Mark
94 Asian Herpetological Research
and the Hawaiian Islands (Zug, 2010b, 2013). This is a
colonizing species that often goes undetected due to its
small size and secretive nature, so its true distribution
is incompletely documented (Zug, 2010b). Small
beachhead populations of parthenogenetic geckos are
most commonly found in lowland coastal localities where
they have become established, either through the actions
of man or by some other means, such as rafting.
The population recorded here 1s located near
Ossohuna, 22 km from the north coast and 10 km from
the south coast of Timor-Leste, at an elevation of 938
m. Although the distances to either coast are not great,
the road from the north coast to Ossohuna is rough,
long, and winding and the road from the south coast
is only accessible seasonally by vehicles with off-road
capability and by no means a reliable transport connector.
This leads us to query whether the specimens represent
the parthenogenetic H. typus or an undescribed sexual
species, such as occur at inland locations in India, China,
Southeast Asia, Sumatra, and Borneo. In most characters
examined, the Timor specimens appear to fall within the
characteristics of H. typus as detailed by Zug (2010b),
and given that the only specimens collected to date are
a juvenile and an adult female we are unable to disprove
the parthenogenetic species argument. However, in light
of the cryptic diversity seen in mainland Southeast Asian
Hemiphyllodactylus populations (Grismer et al., 2013,
2014), a molecular analysis of the Timor specimens is
now being conducted (P. Wood, in prep.).
Genus Carlia "YY"
Common names. (E) Four-fingered Skinks, Rainbow
Skinks. (G) Regenbogen-Skinke. (T) Mamór liman-fuan
haat (mamór = skink, haat = four, liman fuan = finger).
Known distribution. During Phases I-III we collected
Carlia in six of Timor’s mainland districts (Ainaro,
Baucau, Ermera, Lautém, Oecusse, and Viqueque), but
did not locate the genus on Atatro Island (Table 3),
despite reports of the genus from Alor to the northwest
and Wetar to the northeast (Zug, 2010a). Our vouchers
comprised two apparently montane forms: Carlia sp.
*Maubisse' (Figure 19A) from Ainaro District (Maubisse;
Locality 16), and Carlia sp. ‘Meleotegi River’ (Figure
19B) from Ermera District (Sta. Bakhita Mission and
Meleotegi River; Locality 8), and three seemingly
lowland forms: Carlia sp. ‘South Coast’ (Figure 19C)
from Loré village, southeast Lautém District and Beacu
on the coast of Viqueque District, Carlia sp. ‘Baucau’
(Figure 19D) from Afacaimau, Baucau District (Locality
23), and Carlia sp. ‘Abanat River’ from the Oecusse
District. For reports from these localities, see Kaiser et al.
(2011), O’Shea et al. (2012), and Sanchez et al. (2012).
New localities. During 2011 and 2012 (Phases IV-
VII) we collected additional vouchers of all the above
species, except Carlia sp. ‘Abanat River.’ Carlia spp.
*Maubisse' and ‘Meleotegi River,’ which were only
found at their original locations. However, vouchers
of Carlia sp. ‘South Coast’ were collected as a series
from Nancuro (Natarbora, 8 km S Umaboco, Manatuto
District; Locality 20; USNM 579319—27), and as single
specimens from the southern shore of Lake Lenas (near
Fatucahi, Manufahi District; Locality 19; USNM 579328)
and a roadside ditch on the road between Fatucahi and
Betano (Manufahi District; Locality 18; USNM 579329),
greatly extending the westerly range of this taxon from
Beacu, Viqueque District, and providing the first Carlia
records for Manatuto and Manufahi Districts. Another
single specimen obtained by one of us (LLA) at the
Betano “wet site” may also belong to this taxon and
extends the range further west, although it is currently
documented as Carlia incertae sedis. Carlia sp. ‘South
Coast’ was also collected for the first time along the north
coast, when two specimens were obtained from the ruins
of the Pousada de Com (Lautém District; Locality 26;
USNM 579448-49). A single additional specimen of
Carlia sp. ‘Baucau’ was collected at Afacaimau (Baucau
District; Locality 23; USNM 580506), a site known to the
project as the “Carlia spot," and another single specimen,
seemingly also of Carlia sp. ‘Baucau,’ was collected on
the sandstone cliff above the Japanese caves at Venilale
(Baucau District; Locality 22; USNM 580505), although
this specimen was taken at an elevation of 675 m while
the *Carlia spot" vouchers were collected at 290—370 m.
Carlia populations have now been documented for eight
mainland districts (Table 3).
Natural history. Members of the genus Carlia in Timor-
Leste appear to be habitat generalists, found in both
dry and moist habitats, as well as both pristine and
disturbed areas. When out in the open, we have observed
individuals foraging in and around leaf litter and decaying
plant material, or basking on exposed “perches,” such
as small boulders, tree trunks, fallen banana plants, or
retaining walls near human habitations. These lizards
also interact with one another by signaling (e.g., tail
waving: Langkilde et al., 2004; O'Shea, 1993) and
were occasionally observed chasing each other as part
of aggressive or mating encounters. Where they occur,
Carlia can be very abundant lizards: at the Sta. Bakhita
Mission, Carlia sp. ‘Meleotegi’ occurs at numbers of
perhaps as many as one or two individuals per m° on the
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al. Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 95
Figure 19 Representatives of four populations of four-fingered skinks (genus Carlia) we consider to be distinct at the species level.
Important characteristics to differentiate these forms in the field include the coloration of the throat and venter of breading males as well as
the presence, color, and extent of lateral stripes in both sexes. (A) Adult female (SVL — 44 mm) from the grounds of the Portuguese Pousada
at Maubisse (USNM 579334, Locality 16). (B) Adult male (SVL = 46 mm) from man-made gardens at the Sta. Bakhita Mission (USNM
5779450, Locality 8). (C) Adult male (SVL — 42 mm) from among the leaf litter in wet coastal forest at Nancuro (USNM 579324, Locality
20). (D) Adult male (SVL — 40 mm) from banana plant debris in an agricultural environment (USNM 580506, Locality 23). Photos by Mark
terraced hillside. In other localities, abundance clearly
depends on the presence of a potential source of food
(e.g., invertebrates in a pile of decaying leaves). Only
rarely did we encounter single individuals.
We have been unable to observe particular adaptive
specializations among the four or five putative taxa
occurring in Timor-Leste (see Taxonomic comments
below), which can be expected when dealing with a
habitat generalist. One of us (SM) was able to observe
that male Carlia from highland locations (Bakhita and
Meleotegi) held in captivity become flushed with color
during the breeding season. Females, from those locations,
however, may also show a color change towards a more
intense coloration (limited to a mid-lateral stripe), which
is related to reproductive readiness. On the other hand,
such drastic changes in coloration in specimens from the
lowland rainforest of Nancuro were not observed (SM,
pers. obs.). More detailed observations will be possible
once the taxonomic status of these populations has been
Taxonomic comments. Prior to the initiation of this
survey in 2009, two species of Carlia were documented
for the island of Timor: Carlia peronii (Duméril and
Bibron, 1839) and C. spinauris (Smith, 1927). Although
Greer (1976) treated C. spinauris as a synonym of C.
peronii, Zug (20102) recognized them to be separate but
related species within the C. peronii species group (sensu
Greer, 1976), a group that also extends onto other islands
in Indonesia's provinces of East Nusa Tenggara (e.g.,
Roti, Semau, Alor) and southern Maluku (e.g., Wetar,
Kisar). This species group also includes the recently
described C. sukur Zug and Kaiser, 2014 from Pulau
Sukur, a small island north of Flores (Zug and Kaiser,
In addition to a suite of morphological and
morphometric characters, Zug (20102) separated C.
96 Asian Herpetological Research
peronii and C. spinauris spatially, stating that the former
was a lowland species, whereas the latter was a highland
species. The type locality for C. peronii was erroneously
given as “ile de France" (= Mauritius), having been
reassigned to Kupang, West Timor by Greer (1976), the
only location on Timor visited by the collector, Frangois
Auguste Péron. This species is also known from other
low-lying locations to the east of Kupang (e.g., Kokabris,
Noil Toko, Djamplong = Camplong). In contrast, the
type locality for C. spinauris is Lelogama (elevation 750
m), where it was personally collected by M. A. Smith
and his wife in 1924, and it was also recorded from Soé
(elevation 800 m) by de Jong (1927). To date neither
of these species has been recorded in Timor-Leste. The
material available to us has already undergone preliminary
molecular analysis and there is strong evidence to support
the recognition of four or five different species, distinct
from the aforementioned West Timorese taxa.
Cryptoblepharus leschenault (Cocteau, 1832)
Common names. (E) Leschenault's snake-eyed skink.
(G) Leschault-Schlangenaugenskink. (T) Mamór matan
samea leschenault (mamór = skink, matan = eye, samea =
Known distribution. During Phase I (2009)
Cryptoblepharus leschenault (Figure 20) was documented
from lowland locations in Lautém and Baucau Districts,
with three and one vouchers collected, respectively
(Kaiser et al., 2011), and a single voucher was collected
from a coastal location on Ataüro Island, part of
Dili District (Kaiser et al., 2013b). Cryptoblepharus
leschenault 1s therefore known from three districts to
New localities. Single vouchers of C. leschenault were
collected on each of our visits to the coastal forest
at Nancuro (Natarbora, 8 km S Umaboco, Manatuto
District; Locality 20; USNM 579335, 580520), bringing
to four the number of districts where the species has been
collected (Table 3).
Natural history. Cryptoblepharus leschenault is an
infrequently encountered species, but where it occurs
it may be relatively abundant but difficult to capture.
Specimens would run rapidly up the trunks of large
hardwood trees, from where they could usually only be
captured using blowpipes. Despite intensive searches
in many locations these small skinks appeared to be
much more patchily distributed than the other tree-
bole inhabiting lizards, the larger Draco timoriensis and
Lamprolepis smaragdina cf. elberti. The two Nancuro
specimens collected during Phase IV (2011) and Phase
VII (2012) were also found on the boles of trees, 5.0 m
Figure 20 Adult male of Cryptoblepharus leschenault from 3 m
above ground on the trunk of a tree in wet coastal forest at Nancuro
(USNM 580520, Locality 20). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
and 3.0 m from the ground, respectively.
Taxonomic comments. Prior to the initiation of this
survey two species of Cryptoblepharus had been recorded
from Timor Island, C. leschenault and C. schlegelianus.
Whereas the former was only recently documented for
Timor-Leste (Kaiser et al., 2011), the latter is known
only from Semau, a small island off West Timor, where
it apparently occurs in sympatry with C. leschenault
(Brongersma, 1942). The dorsal pattern of C. leschenault
consists of a dark background with a pair of narrow light
dorsolateral stripes from snout to tail and a narrow light
vertebral stripe from the snout to a point anterior to the
forelimbs, where it then splits, in the shape of a tuning
fork, to continue to the tail as a pair of even narrower
paravertebral stripes. The pattern of C. schlegelianus
comprises a pale background without a vertebral stripe,
but with a pair of relatively broad, pale dorsolateral stripes
above a narrower pair of dark narrow stripes that continue
to the tail (Horner, 2007). Without the benefit of a detailed
review of available material, we are unconvinced that C.
schlegelianus is present in Timor-Leste; the species has
only been verified for Semau Island, in the absence of
actual specimens from the western end of Timor (Horner,
2007; Mertens, 1931), although a very similar, perhaps
conspecific form is present in Timor-Leste (see account of
C. cf. schlegelianus below).
Cryptoblepharus sp. ‘Bakhita’ ™
Common names. (E) Bakhita snake-eyed skink. (G)
Bakhita-Schlangenaugenskink. (T) Mamór matan samea
bakhita (mamór = skink, matan = eye, samea = snake).
The common name ‘Bakhita’ is used in reference to
the Sta. Bakhita Mission, the location from which
our exploration of the nearby Meleotegi River habitat
Identification. This hitherto undescribed species of
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
Cryptoblepharus (Figure 21) has a dorsal stripe pattern
similar to that of C. leschenault, but with a critical
difference. The dorsal pattern of C. leschenault consists
of a black background with a pair of narrow light yellow
dorsolateral stripes from snout to tail and a yellow
vertebral stripe, from the snout to a point anterior to
the forelimbs, where it then splits into two narrower
paravertebral stripes that continue to the tail, the overall
impression being of a ‘tuning-fork’ pattern. In the two
Meleotegi specimens, the vertebral stripe does not fork on
the back and continues to the tail as a single stripe.
Known distribution. During Phase II (2010) a single
specimen of Cryptoblepharus, collected from a tree on the
Meleotegi River, near the Sta. Bakhita Mission (Eraulo,
Ermera District; Locality 8), was considered sufficiently
distinct from known species (C. leschenault and C.
schlegelianus—see Taxonomic comments below) to
warrant recognition as a third Timorese species, pending
the collection of additional material.
New localities. During Phase V (2011) a second voucher
(USNM 579472) was obtained from the same locality as
in Phase II.
Natural history. With only two specimens known,
our knowledge of this species’ natural history is
obviously very scant. Both specimens were discovered
at a considerable height above ground on the trunks of
large trees (as high as 7 m), and their somewhat jerky
movements and body aspect remind us of other small
tree-dwelling skinks in Southeast Asia, such as Lipinia
vittigera (Boulenger, 1894). Both individuals appeared to
be foraging on the bark surface when first seen, moving
downwards along the tree trunk. When disturbed they
reversed course and began moving back up the tree,
though unhurriedly and once again appearing to forage.
Specimens of both C. /eschenault and Cryptoblepharus
sp. ‘Bakhita’ are infrequently encountered, and when seen
appear as individual lizards without conspecifics present,
in contrast to C. cf. schlegelianus.
Taxonomic comments. The presence/absence and
condition of various types of dorsal and lateral stripes
is an important characteristic in the recognition of
Cryptoblepharus species, with a number of species
(Horner, 2007) exhibiting the ‘tuning-fork’ vertebral stripe
pattern. These include C. leschenault from Timor and
Flores and C. balinensis Barbour, 1911 from Bali. Other
taxa exhibit a non-forking vertebral stripe, including C.
balinensis sumbawanus Mertens, 1928 from Sumbawa,
C. renschi Mertens, 1928 from Sumba and Komodo,
and C. keiensis (Roux, 1910) from the Kei Islands. All
of the aforementioned taxa occur at elevations up to
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 97
500 m, and in this assemblage highland forms (above
800 m) are uncommon. The presence of a population of
Cryptoblepharus in the highlands of Timor exhibiting
the non-forked vertebral pattern on a dark background
is therefore indicative of a species undescribed so far
(Kaiser et al., in prep.).
[V, VII- VIII]
Cryptoblepharus cf. schlegelianus
Common names. (E) Timor north coast snake-eyed
skink. (G) Schlegel-Schlangenaugenskink. (T) Mamór
matan samea tasi ibun utara (mamór = skink, matan =
eye, samea = snake, tasi ibun utara = north coast).
Identification. Differentiation of this coastal form (Figure
22) from both other species of Cryptoblepharus so far
found in Timor-Leste (C. leschenault, Cryptoblepharus
sp. ‘Bakhita’) is quite simple, considering the absence
of prominent yellow or cream dorsal stripes. Coastal
specimens tend to be brown or black with broad (1.5-2.0
scales wide), lighter brown longitudinal dorsolateral
stripes over a broader (3.0—4.0 scales wide), darker
irregular stripe that occupies much of the upper flanks
of the body. The mid-dorsal region is brown with lighter
flecking on some of the keeled margins of the scales and
occasional scattered dark-brown spots. Specimens from
the Tasi Tolu series (Dili District; Locality 1) had more
extensive dark markings that obscured the ground color
and exaggerated the light brown dorsolateral stripes; one
specimen was virtually melanistic.
Known distribution. Cryptoblepharus schlegelianus
Mertens, 1928 1s known from specimens collected on
Semau Island, off the southwestern part of Timor, near the
port of Kupang in West Timor, but we have been unable
to find any specimens from Timor associated with this
species name in museum collections. We are therefore
unable to confirm the occurrence of C. schlegelianus
on mainland Timor. Although Mertens (1928) listed the
species for Timor in his original description, that listing 1s
based on material the Senckenberg Museum (Frankfurt,
Germany) obtained in an exchange from the collections at
Gießen, Germany, in 1854. Given that the port of Kupang
was the main shipping center in this region in the early
part of the 19" century, and given that at least one other
species’ origin was in error based on shipping and not
collection locality — Malayopython timorensis (Peters,
1876), which does not occur on Timor Island (Barker
and Barker, 1996; O'Shea et al., 2012) — we consider
the provenance of the Gießen material problematic and
wonder whether the distribution of C. schlegelianus
actually includes Timor (see Taxonomic Comment
New localities. Cryptoblepharus cf. schlegelianus, was
98 Asian Herpetological Research
Figure 21 Adult male of Cryptoblepharus sp. ‘Bakhita’ from 5 m
above ground on the trunk of a large tree in coffee forest at the
Meleotegi River (USNM 579181, Locality 8). Note the absence of
a forked line pattern, unlike that seen in C. leschenault. Photo by
Figure 22 Adult individual of Cryptoblepharus cf. schlegelianus
from the rocky shore at Tasi Tolu, Dili (USNM 580513, Locality 1).
Photo by Mark O'Shea.
sampled as small series from each of three northern
coastal locations. During Phase V (2011) a voucher series
was collected on the wharf at Com (Lautém District;
Locality 26; USNM 579455-71), in the final days of
Phase VII (2012) a second voucher series was collected
along the rocky beach at Tasi Tolu, near Dili (Dili District;
Locality 1; USNM 580512-19), and during Phase VIII
(2013) we discovered a population on the other side
of Dili, below the Cristo Rei monument (Dili District;
Locality 2; USNM 581114—27).
Natural history. These skinks were found in densely
populated colonies, exclusively in locations right at sea
level. At Com (Locality 26) they were found hiding in
cracks on the sloping concrete of the wharf walls, or
hunting in the flotsam, rocks, coral debris, and seaweed
below the wharf walls. Much of this foraging activity
was in the saltwater splash zone and while the animals
seemed unperturbed by the spray, they actively avoided
swells. Individuals were more commonly encountered on
the landward, more protected inner side of the wharf but
were also in evidence on the seaward, outer wall, where
they were much more exposed to wave activity. At Tasi
Tolu (Locality 1) skinks were found in almost an identical
scenario as in Com, on a wharf and on the rocky shore
right at sea level. Near Cristo Rei (Locality 2), individuals
were encountered on large boulders, in rocky crevices, as
well as in the pebbles of the splash zone.
Cryptoblepharus cf. schlegelianus occurs at much
greater densities than either C. leschenault or
Cryptoblepharus sp. ‘Bakhita’ and obviously has a much
different ecological niche. It displays a propensity to
forage in the saltwater splash zone, where it will have
access to terrestrial arthropods feeding on exposed littoral
vegetation as well as tidal invertebrates, and where
the food supply would permit the observed population
Taxonomic comments. In general appearance, specimens
of C. cf. schlegelianus resemble dark specimens of C.
schlegelianus from Semau. However, differences in
pattern, scalation, and ecology (HK, pers. obs.), as well
as the geographic separation between populations in
Timor-Leste and the southwestern end of Timor Island
where Semau is situated, lead us to question whether the
form found in Timor-Leste is indeed conspecific with C.
schlegelianus. We therefore conservatively assign the
name C. cf. schlegelianus to this form.
Genus Eremiascincus "VV"
Common names. (E) Night Skinks. (G) Glatte
Nachtskinke. (T) Mamór kalan (mamór = skink, kalan =
Known distribution. Night skinks (genus Eremiascincus;
Figure 23) have been collected on most phases of the
project, but their status and identity has been the source
of some confusion (see Taxonomic comments below).
During Phases I and II, species of Eremiascincus were
documented from four mainland districts (Ainaro,
Ermera, Lautém, and Manufahi; see Kaiser et al., 2011;
O’Shea et al., 2012), followed during Phase VI by the
first specimens collected on Ataüro Island (Dili District;
see Kaiser et al., 2013b). Eremiascincus 1s therefore
known from five districts of Timor-Leste to date.
New localities. During Phases IV-VIII Eremiascincus
was again encountered and collected and those records
pertaining to mainland Timor-Leste and Jaco Island are
included here. Additional vouchers were obtained from
the Meleotegi River (Ermera District; Locality 8; USNM
579474, 579760, 580521—24, 581128—39), Maubisse
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
(Ainaro District; Locality 15; USNM 579339-45), and
Mirbuti village, near Same (Manufahi District; 17;
USNM 579336-—38). New records for Lautém District
were supported by voucher material from Raga (Locality
27; USNM 581762) and Jaco Island (Locality 30; USNM
579473), the former only as an autotomized tail as the
skink escaped into a limestone hole.
Natural history. Individuals of Eremiascincus were
invariably found by turning over rocks and logs, in both
moist and dry substrate, and never out in the open, either
during the day or by night. It appears that these animals
require shelter by day and are fairly indiscriminate how
they find it. We have found some individuals in man-
made rock piles and underneath large flat rocks near
human habitations, while elsewhere (such as in the dry
coastal forest on Jaco Island; Locality 30) we encountered
them under rotten logs. The daytime refuges also appear
to require a certain level of moisture.
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 99
Taxonomic comments. The genus Eremiascincus
was initially formed for a group of closely related
Australian sand-swimming skinks nested within the
genus Sphenomorphus (Greer, 1979). It was then
expanded to include a number of taxa from the genus
Glaphyromorphus (Mecke et al., 2009), including the
Lesser Sunda taxa E. antoniorum (Smith, 1927), E.
butlerorum (Aplin et al., 1993), E. e. emigrans (van Lidth
de Jeude, 1895), E. e. wetariensis (Mertens, 1928), and
E. timorensis (Greer, 1990). Three Eremiascincus species
have been documented for Timor so far (E. antoniorum,
E. cf. emigrans, and E. timorensis), but the taxonomy
of Eremiascincus populations in the Lesser Sunda
Islands, let alone Timor Island, is far from resolved. All
previous reports of E. antoniorum and E. timorensis are
from the central mountains of West Timor (Aplin et al.,
1993; Greer, 1990; Smith, 1927), whereas reports of E.
cf. emigrans are from the south coast at Loré, Lautém
Figure 23 Representatives of populations of Eremiascincus. Images (A)-(B) show the timorensis morphotype, (C) depicts Eremiascincus
*Ermera', and (D) and (E) show specimens of the emigrans morphotype. (A) Adult male E. cf. timorensis (SVL = 96 mm) from under a man-
made rock pile at the edge of the Meleotegi River (USNM 579760, Locality 8). (B) Adult male Eremiascincus sp. ‘Montane’ (SVL = 72 mm)
from the grounds of the Portuguese Pousada at Maubisse (USNM 579339, Locality 16). This population has undetermined species affinities
and may represent an undescribed species. (C) Adult male E. ‘Ermera’ (SVL = 53 mm) from a dry bamboo root mass alongside the Meleotegi
River (USNM 580522, Locality 8). (D) Adult individual of Eremiascincus sp. ‘Lautém’ (SVL = 51 mm) from underneath palm leaf litter in a
near-coastal habitat (USNM 579194, Loré, Lautém District; see Kaiser et al., 2011). (E) Adult individual of Eremiascincus sp. ‘Jaco’ (SVL =
39 mm) from underneath a coralline rock in dry coastal forest (USNM 579473, Locality 30). Photos by Mark O'Shea.
100 Asian Herpetological Research
District (Kaiser et al., 2011).
After collecting over sixty voucher specimens from
five districts at elevations ranging from 10—2046 m we
believe that as many as five species of Eremiascincus are
present in Timor-Leste. Overall morphology ranges from
large species with stout limbs and a relatively short trunk
(a timorensis morphotype), to small-sized species, with
reduced limbs and an elongated body that are superficially
similar to E. emigrans.
Among the forms with the timorensis morphotype
are those exhibiting an orange venter, but with the
ventral coloration not extending onto the chin region
(Figure 23A). These are the largest, most strongly built
forms in Timor-Leste, and they have been collected
on the Meleotegi River at an elevation around 1180 m
(Ermera District; Locality 8); they are herein listed as
Eremiascincus cf. timorensis. A second member with
this stout morphology 1s a slightly smaller, more slender,
yellow-bellied form, whose ventral coloration extends
across the gular region to the snout. This form is found at
other highland locations (e.g., Maubisse, Ainaro District;
Locality 16), the slopes of nearby Mt. Ramelau, and
at various locations around Same (Manufahi District;
Locality 17); it might be conspecific with Eremiascincus
cf. timorensis or represent an undescribed taxon, and it
is listed here as Eremiascincus ‘Montane’ (Figure 23B).
A third highland taxon, similar to E. antoniorum in some
respects (Figure 23D), has a yellow venter that does not
extend into the gular region, and displays a more slender
and elongated body than forms with the timorensis
morphotype. This form is known from the Meleotegi
River and surrounds (Ermera District; Locality 8), and we
did not find it anywhere else in Timor-Leste. We refer to
this species as Eremiascincus ‘Ermera.’ In each case, both
male and female specimens show the respective ventral
coloration, but intraspecific variation or color change
related to reproductive readiness cannot be excluded at
The emigrans morphotype appears to inhabit only
lowland habitats in Timor-Leste (below 500 m elevation,
and most frequently near the coast), which is consistent
with the distribution of E. emigrans complex forms on
other islands in the region. The Lautém taxon listed by
Kaiser et al. (2011) is referred to as Eremiascincus sp.
*Lautém' here (Figure 23C), and this population may
inhabit the limestone habitats that make up the eastern
end of Timor Island, at elevations from sea level up to
462 m. The mainland Lautém form is similar to, and
may be conspecific with, a population found on Jaco
Island, which we call Eremiascincus *Jaco' (Figure 23E).
Finally, the population found at coastal localities on
northeastern Ataüro Island (Dili District) 1s referred to
as Eremiascincus * Ataüro' (Kaiser et al., 2013b), a taxon
certainly different from E. emigrans wetariensis from
nearby Wetar Island. A comprehensive study of these
forms is currently underway (Mecke et al., in prep.).
Eutropis cf. multifasciata U" V
Common names. (E) Common Sun Skink, Many-lined
Sun Skink. (G) Vielstreifen-Skink. (T) Mamór loro
(mamór = skink, loro = sun).
Known distribution. Eutropis cf. multifasciata (Figure
24) has so far been documented from Ermera, Lautém,
and Oecusse Districts, on the mainland (Kaiser et al.,
2011; O'Shea et al., 2012; Sanchez et al., 2012), and also
from Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b).
New localities. During Phases IV-VII additional
vouchers of Eutropis cf. multifasciata were collected
from the Meleotegi River and Sta. Bakhita Mission
(Ermera District; Locality 8; USNM 579787—88), while
first district records were obtained for Manufahi District,
at Betano “wet site" (Locality 18; USNM 579347-49),
and for Manatuto District, in the Nancuro coastal forest at
Natarbora, 8 km south of Umaboco (Locality 20; USNM
580525—26), bringing to six the districts of Timor-Leste
where this taxon has been documented.
Natural history. Skinks of this species were most
frequently seen moving around in the open during daytime
and were found in a variety of habitats, including rain and
dry forests, grasslands, as well as coastal environments.
We also encountered them on paths, roadways, and patios
near human habitations. A single juvenile specimen was
found underneath a flat rock along the Meleotegi River
Taxonomic comments. We refer to the population of
Eutropis in Timor-Leste as E. cf. multifasicata because
other than a resemblance to other Southeast Asian
populations of the E. multifasciata species complex, there
Is insufficient evidence to align it more closely with any
other island or mainland population. The taxon currently
referred to as E. multifasciata (Kuhl, 1820) has a very
wide distribution, from the Southeast Asian mainland
down to Timor and east to the Philippines. It is in dire
need of taxonomic revision and once this has been carried
out it may be possible to be more precise about the status
of the Timorese populations. In the Lesser Sunda region,
the population on Bali currently has subspecific status as
E. m. balinensis (Mertens, 1927).
Lamprolepis smaragdina cf. elberti ™=™
Common names. (E) Emerald or Green Tree Skink.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
Figure 24 Adult male Eutropis cf. multifasciata from a sun spot in
leaf litter in wet coastal forest at Nancuro (USNM 579346, Locality
20). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
(G) Elbert-Smaragdskink. (T) Mamór modok (mamór =
skink, modok = green).
Known distribution. Lamprolepis smaragdina cf. elberti
(Figure 25) has been documented from Baucau, Lautém,
Oecusse, and Viqueque Districts on the mainland (Kaiser
et al., 2011; O’Shea et al., 2012; Sanchez et al., 2012),
and also from Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b).
New localities. During Phases IV-VII we added further
records for Lautém District, from Raga (Locality 27;
USNM 579357—58) and the Pousada de Tutuala (Locality
28; USNM 579475—76), as well as the first district records
for Manatuto District, from the Nancuro coastal forest at
Natarbora (8 km south of Umaboco, Locality 20; USNM
579350); for Manufahi District, from Betano (“wet site,”
Locality 18; USNM 579356); for Covalima District, in
western Suai (Locality 13; USNM 579351—52); and for
Bobonaro District, from a heavily grazed forest at Fiuren
(near Balibo, Locality 9; USNM 580527-—28), bringing
the total number of districts where L. s. cf. elberti has
been documented to nine.
Natural history. Specimens of L. s. cf. elberti were
primarily collected by blow-piping or hand-slapping
from the trunks of trees. The majority of individuals
was encountered fairly high above ground level (3-7
m) on tree trunks with varying diameters (> 20 cm).
This position is used as a perch for basking, as a base
for foraging, and as an eyrie from which to observe the
surroundings. Our earlier observation (Kaiser et al., 2011)
of site fidelity for this skink appears to be confirmed by
additional observations: specific individuals seem to
remain on the same tree during a days-long period of
Taxonomic comments. Preliminary examinations of
the subspecies of Lamprolepis smaragdina undertaken
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 101
by HK and AK revealed that the form encountered on
Timor would most likely be L. s. elberti (Sternfeld, 1918),
a subspecies described from Wetar Island in the Inner
Banda Arc, across the Wetar Strait from Timor. However,
our examination of the holotype and topotypic specimens
of that subspecies has revealed differences in color
pattern and pholidosis, and we therefore find the use of
L. smaragdina cf. elberti the most appropriate approach.
It is interesting to note that coloration of this skink 1s
quite variable and may deviate considerably from the
emerald-green suggested by the name. While there are no
individuals with entirely green body coloration in Timor-
Leste, we have seen individuals possessing a bright green
anterior half of the body that transforms in the medial
section of the body into a “pepper-and-salt pattern” on
a bronze-brown background (Figure 25A). This dorsal
“pepper-and-salt pattern" still has the remnants of green
coloration ventrally and on to the lower lateral parts of
the body, but turns entirely bronze-brown on the tail. The
alternative form is one devoid of any green coloration,
Figure 25 Individuals of Lamprolepis smaragdina cf. elberti
showing variation in dorsal coloration. This is not an example
of sexual dimorphism, as both male and female individuals may
possess either color pattern. Both specimens shown here were seen
on tree limbs in their respective habitats. (A) Adult male presenting
the two-part color pattern with a green anterior half of the body
and a pepper-and-salt pattern on bronze background covering
the posterior half and the tail (USNM 579213, Viqueque town,
Viqueque District; see Kaiser et al., 2011). (B) Adult male from
coastal wet forest at Nancuro presenting the unicolor dorsal pattern
that includes light green portions of the venter and the bronze dorsal
coloration with pepper-and-salt patterning along the entire body
(USNM 579350, Locality 20). Photos by Mark O’Shea.
102 Asian Herpetological Research
with perhaps only a greenish sheen on the venter (Figure
Genus Sphenomorphus '" \"
Common names. (E) Forest or Wedge skinks. (G)
Waldskinke. (T) Mamór ai laran (mamór = skink, ai laran
Known distribution. The genus Sphenomorphus (Figure
26) has so far been recorded from four districts (Ainaro,
Ermera, Lautém, and Manufahi; see Kaiser et al., 2011;
O'Shea et al., 2012).
New localities. During Phases IV-VIII additional
records for the genus Sphenomorphus were obtained
for Lautém District at Raga (Locality 27; USNM
579371—72, 579477-81), the Mainina sink-hole (Locality
29; USNM 579482-83), and Jaco Island (Locality 30;
USNM 579484—86); for Ermera District (Meleotegi
River, Locality 8; USNM 579487-89, 579765—66,
580539); and for Manufahi District (Betano “wet site,”
Locality 18; USNM 579369—70). First district records for
Manatuto District are supported by voucher specimens
from Nancuro (Natarbora, 8 km S of Umaboco, Locality
20; USNM 579359-67, 580529—33, 580534—38), and
for Baucau District from the Japanese caves at Venilale
(Locality 22; USNM 580540-41), increasing the number
of districts from which Sphenomorphus skinks have been
documented to six. The genus has yet to be documented
for Ataüro Island.
Natural history. Among the forms of Sphenomorphus
found in Timor-Leste, it may be possible to declare a
distinction between lowland and highland forms. Some
lowland forms (including those in the wet coastal forest
of Nancuro and Betano as well as the dry forest on Jaco
Island) are likely closely related to or identical with S.
melanopogon (Duméril and Bibron, 1839). We have
encountered these fairly robust and long-limbed animals
Figure 26 Representative individuals of several different phenotypes of forest skinks, genus Sphenomorphus. (A) Male individual of S.
melanopogon (SVL — 69 mm) from a root buttress in coastal wet forest at Nancuro (USNM 579364, Locality 20, near sea level). (B) High-
altitude color variation is seen in this adult S. cf. melanopogon (SVL = 64 mm) found on the trunk of a tree in coffee forest (USNM 579368,
Locality 17 at 1200 m elevation). (C) Male individual of Sphenomorphus sp. ‘Highland large’ (SVL = 55 mm) from the wall of a limestone
cave near Raga (USNM 579479, Locality 27 at 550 m elevation). (D) Male specimen of the Jaco Island population of Sphenomorphus (SVL
— 75 mm, USNM 579486, Locality 30). Individuals of this population are seen quite commonly running across the leaf litter covering the
limestone karst on their way into refugia that run deep into the rock. (E) Male individual of Sphenomorphus sp. ‘Highland small’ (SVL = 42
mm) from the leaf litter outside the man-made caves at Venilale (USNM 580540, Locality 22). Photos by Mark O'Shea.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
most frequently in a head-down posture on the trunks
of trees or root buttresses, from where they can launch
themselves quickly and escape into the underbrush.
We also found juvenile Sphenomorphus skinks in all
areas where we recorded this genus, attesting to a fairly
high reproductive rate and a high population density.
In contrast, there are fewer individuals of the highland
form found, for example, in the coffee forest along the
Meleotegi River (Locality 8) or in the drier forest of
the karst plateau of Lautém District (e.g., in Raga and
Mainina, Localities 27 and 29, respectively). In addition,
we have seldom encountered juveniles of this latter form
(or these forms), and their bodies have a more vivid
coloration in general, and on the belly in particular. Until
a thorough taxonomic treatment is concluded, it 1s not
feasible to provide detailed, taxon-specific data regarding
the natural history.
Taxonomic comments. The taxonomy of Sphenomorphus
in Timor-Leste appears to be even more complex
than that of Eremiascincus. We may have collected
specimens belonging to different taxa but are unable to
attribute them to any known species at this time. Shea
(2012) investigated the Lesser Sunda and New Guinea
populations of Sphenomorphus melanopogon, and selected
as the lectotype for this species a syntype collected
by Péron on Timor, presumably in West Timor. This
confirms that S. melanopogon sensu stricto 1s a Lesser
Sunda-Moluccan endemic, and New Guinean populations
formerly considered conspecific with S. melanopogon
are now treated as S. meyeri (Doria, 1874). Some of our
lowland specimens from Lautém and Manatuto Districts
may be referable to S. melanopogon (Figure 26A), but
there remain some differences in coloration and gestalt
(Figure 26B). Those with a similar overall morphotype
but different coloration collected on the Meleotegi River
and on the Lautém karst plateau appear distinct and are
referred to as Sphenomorphus sp. ‘Highland large’ (Figure
26C), but once again, there is merely similarity but not
identity with forms from Jaco Island (Figure 26D). One
other, small and slender form from the Venilale caves,
with a very distinct pattern of stripes and blotches,
may be referred to as Sphenomorphus sp. ‘Highland
small’ (Fig, 26E). All other specimens, including those
from the Meleotegi River collected during Phases I
and III, are currently retained as incertae sedis within
Family Varanidae—Monitor Lizards
Varanus timorensis Gray, 1831 "Y V V!
Common names. (E) Timor Tree Monitor, Spotted Tree
Monitor. (G) Timor-Waran. (T) Lafaek rai-maran (lafaek
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 103
— crocodile or large lizard, rai — dirt, maran — dry).
Known distribution. Varanus timorensis (Figure 27A) is
the only varanid currently known to occur on Timor and
it was recorded from Lautém during Phase I and the north
coast of Manatuto District during Phase III (Kaiser et al.,
2011; O'Shea et al., 2012). Bethencourt Ferreira (1898)
also reported specimens collected by Rafael das Dóres
in Liquiga District, at Lahane, Fatunaba, and Maubara,
which were subsequently lost to a fire at the Museu
Bocage in Lisbon.
New localities. Phases IV, VI, and VII produced
additional records from northern Lautém and Manatuto
Districts, and new records from Baucau District (along the
coastal road; USNM-HI 2831-33), Dili District (Timor
Lodge Hotel; Locality 1; USNM-HI 2834), and Covalima
District (northwest of Maubesi, near Tilomar; Locality 15;
USNM 579389). Since this is a CITES protected species
we have voluntarily limited our collecting to either tissue
samples or road-killed specimens, where these were fresh
enough to be sampled. Live specimens were collected,
photographed in situ and released. The exception to this
ne TR APPS i
Figure 27 (A) Adult Varanus timorensis (not vouchered) displaying
the characteristic morphology and coloration seen in individuals
encountered all along the northern low-lying coastal habitats
in Timor-Leste. (B) An unusual specimen we refer to as V. cf.
timorensis due to its aberrant color pattern, habitat, and behavior.
We found this specimen ca. 5 m high on a roadside tree at an
elevation of 520 m (USNM 579389, Locality 15). Photo by Mark
104 Asian Herpetological Research
was the specimen from Tilomar (Figure 27B), given that
its morphology, color pattern, and occurrence at higher
altitude (520 m) gave the appearance that it might be a
specimen of V. auffenbergi Sprackland, 1999, a species
described from neighboring Roti Island. However,
according to Bóhme (2003) and Moldovan (2007),
the status of V. timorensis populations on Timor and
neighboring Roti and Kisar is still unresolved. Varanus
timorensis, inclusive of the unusually colored Tilomar
specimen, is now known to occur in five mainland
districts at an elevational range from 6 m to as high as
Natural history. Most of our observations of this
species have been fleeting glimpses of lizards dashing
across roads, or through the examination of road-killed
specimens. Lizards appear to be particularly abundant in
the vegetation associated with active and unplanted rice
paddies, but we believe them to be present in essentially
any lowland habitat. Even in residential areas, such as the
compound of the Timor Lodge Hotel in Dili (Locality 1),
these lizards are able to make a living, perhaps attracted
by the presence of small vertebrates and invertebrates
associated with human habitations.
Taxonomic comments. Various varanids have been
listed as present on Timor by previous authors, including
Varanus timorensis, V. indicus, and V. salvator. Varanus
timorensis 1s a tree monitor species present on both the
northern and southern coasts but the species is also found
further inland, although it has yet to be recorded at or
above 600 m. The specimen from Covalima is the only
specimen found an appreciable distance (approx. 12
km) inland and since this specimen differed slightly in
appearance from the usual V. timorensis and 1s perhaps
conspecific with V. auffenbergi, it was tentatively listed
as V. cf. timorensis. Varanus indicus 1s probably recorded
from Timor in error, as it is known to be a mangrove-
and estuarine-dwelling species from New Guinea and the
Moluccan islands of Aru, Kei, Seram, and Buru (Bóhme,
2003). Varanus salvator is not known from the main
island of Timor but a population of V salvator-like lizards
has been documented from Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al.,
SNAKES (ORDER SERPENTES)
Acrochordus granulatus (Schneider, 1799) /"!
Common names. (E) Little filesnake. (G) Indische
Warzenschlange, Zwerg-Warzenschlange. (T) Samea kulit
krukut (samea = snake, kulit = skin, krukut = rough).
Identification. Due to their excessively baggy, highly
tuberculate skin, the three extant members of the genus
Acrochordus are instantly recognizable, and afforded
common names such as “wartsnake,” “filesnake,” or
“elephant’s trunk snake” (this latter the case for the
larger freshwater species). Acrochordus granulatus
(Figure 28A) is the smallest member of the genus, with a
maximum length of 1.6 m (McDowell, 1979), although
most specimens are less than 1.0 m long.
Known distribution. One historic locality record for
the occurrence of A. granulatus exists for Timor-Leste
(Table 4), documented from a single specimen collected
by Francisco Newton, at “Dilly” (= Dili, Dili District,
Locality 1), and reported by Bethencourt Ferreira (1898)
as present in the Museu de Lisboa; this specimen was lost
in the museum fire of 1978. Acrochordus granulatus is
also known from West Timor (from Kupang and Tuakdale
Lagoon; de Lang, 2011).
New localities. One individual (Figure 28B) was
collected by AVR in the mangrove swamp at Metinaro
(Dili District; Locality 3; USNM-FS 255498; field tag
only, specimen to remain on exhibit in Timor-Leste;
Natural history. The unusual tuberculate skin is an
essential aid for the identification of these snakes in
Timor-Leste. Acrochordus are ambush predators or
active foragers, that grasp and coil around their slippery
fish prey, with the tubercles maintaining a strong
and inescapable, constriction-like grip as the fish is
maneuvered into a head-first ingestible position. It has
also been suggested that the tuberculate skin may prevent
the snakes from drying out if exposed to the air (Greer,
1997), and tubercles may also serve a sensory purpose
in prey location (McDowell, 1979; Shine and Houston,
Filesnakes are completely aquatic, found in coastal,
brackish and occasionally fresh water, being ill-adapted
to movement on land due to their extremely small ventral
scales and flabby bodies. What makes locomotion
laborious and impossible in a terrestrial environment
enables filesnakes to become efficient inhabitants of
aquatic environments as the body can be flattened laterally
as a broad ribbon for effortless swimming. Other notable
external aquatic features include dorsally positioned
valvular nostrils, small eyes, and a row of small, tight-
fitting supralabial scales along the lips, perhaps to
reduce water ingress into the oral cavity. More subtle
physiological aquatic adaptations include a low metabolic
rate and almost twice the blood content of terrestrial
snakes of similar size, which, coupled with high levels
of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, have enabled captive
specimens of A. granulatus to remain submerged for up
Mark O'SHEA et al.
Figure 28 Individual of Acrochordus granulatus from Metinaro
Swamp (USNM-FS 255438, Locality 3). (A) Photo taken by
Agivedo Varela Ribeiro right after capture. (B) Specimen
after preservation shows a color shift to brown, indicating the
characteristic banding pattern of the species. Photo by Mark O'Shea.
to 139 minutes (Whitaker and Captain, 2004). Filesnakes
may remain motionless for prolonged periods of time,
whether resting or in ambush, using their prehensile tails
to maintain an anchorage against prevailing currents.
Acrochordus granulatus 1s probably the most adaptable
of Acrochordus species, occurring in marine, brackish,
and freshwater habitats, and although there is one record
of a specimen from an elevation of 90 m (McDowell,
1979), this 1s a low elevation species. Although it is most
often associated with mangrove swamps and turbid river
estuaries, this species is also encountered in shallow,
crystal-clear coral reef environments (MOS, pers.
obs). Acrochordus granulatus is also the most widely
distributed member of the genus, occurring from the
western coastline of India, east to Indochina, southeast to
northern Australia, and eastwards to the Solomon Islands.
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 105
It has been collected 10—15 km from shore and at a depth
of 20 m (Stuebing and Voris, 1990; Voris and Glodek,
1980), but it is considered an inshore rather than an open
Prey of A. granulatus is composed entirely of inshore
or estuarine fish (McDowell, 1979); the presence of crabs
or snails in gut contents is likely attributable to secondary
ingestion (Greer, 1997). Acrochordus granulatus has
been observed foraging actively, swimming and probing
the substrate for hidden prey (Gorman et al., 1981). Both
the chemosensory forked tongue and tactile sensory
bristles on the tubercles may be utilized in prey location
and capture (Greer, 1997), resulting in the opportunistic
capture of fish coming into contact with a resting filesnake
as much as the active foraging for prey.
In contrast to its two larger, primarily nocturnal,
relatives, A. granulatus is equally active both by day or
night (Greer, 1997), although in our experience (MOS,
pers. obs.) they are more frequently encountered surfacing
for air in estuarine habitats after dark. Acrochordus is a
viviparous genus, with female A. granulatus producing
1—12 neonates (McKay, 2006).
Taxonomic comments. In the historic literature, A.
granulatus is frequently referred to as Chersydrus
granulatus (e.g., Schneider, 1801; Merrem, 1820;
Boulenger, 1893; de Rooij, 1917), distinct from the
only other known species at the time, the much larger A.
javanicus Hornstedt, 1787, which was itself split into two
species by McDowell (1979): the freshwater-brackish
Southeast Asian A. javanicus and the entirely freshwater
Australo-Papuan A. arafurae McDowell, 1979.
Despite its huge geographical range, and the antiquity
of the family, with species divergence times of 20-16
Mya, a recent study (Sanders et al., 2010) found no
evidence that A. granulatus might be a composite of
several different species. The family and genus are
remarkably species-poor with one extinct species, A.
dehmi Hofstetter, 1964 described from Pakistan (Head,
2005; Hoffstetter, 1964).
Family Colubridae— Typical Snakes
Coelognathus subradiatus (Schegel, 1837)
Common names. (E) Lesser Sunda Racer, Lesser
Sunda Trinket Snake, Timor Racer. (G) Indonesische
Kletternatter. (T) Samea laho (samea = snake, laho = rat).
Known distribution. During Phases I and III we collected
two specimens of Coelognathus subradiatus (Figure 29)
in Baucau and Viqueque Districts, both on the outskirts of
the towns bearing the districts’ names (Kaiser et al., 2011;
O’Shea et al., 2012), and recorded a third specimen as a
roadkill on the Atambua-Kefamenanu road in West Timor
Asian Herpetological Research
Table 4 Records of snake species for the districts of Timor-Leste. Black circles indicate previously known records, red circles denote new
records. Black open circles are literature records. Records listed in grey denote literature records from West Timor, with closed circles
representing road-killed specimens we found and open circles representing known museum specimens. Check marks denote encounters with
positive identifications, but without voucher specimens.
Taxon 2 8 B E E P E S £ & 3 E 9 B E References*
i i$ B 6 P C S$ B à 3 B8 EB EIE
a O Z4 = 2 5 Oo $|8
Acrochordus granulatus e. O 4,6,10
Coelognathus subradiatus subradiatus e. e. O e. e. e = 1,2,4-6,10
Dendrelaphis inornatus timorensis  y ® Y e e. O 1,5,6
Lycodon capucinus e e. e. e. e. e. e. e. e 1,2,4-6
Lycodon subcinctus e e 1,4,6
Stegonotus sp. e. e. 4
Cylindrophis cf. boulengeri O e. O 4,6,8
Laticauda colubrina e Y e. 3,4
Cantoria violacea O 6,7,10
Cerberus rynchops e. O O e. O 1,2,4,6
Fordonia leucobalia e. O 4,6
Liasis mackloti mackloti e. * e. e. 2,4
Malayopython reticulatus e. O e. e. e. e. O 2-4,6
Indotyphlops braminus e. e. e. e. e. O 1,4,6
Indotyphlops incertae sedis e. e. e. 1,4
Sundatyphlops polygrammicus e. O e. 4,6,9
Trimeresurus insularis e. e.  o e. O e. e. e. e. 1,2,4,6
‘References are identified numerically as follows: 1 = Kaiser et al., 2011; 2 = O’Shea et al., 2012; 3 = Sanchez et al., 2012; 4 = this paper; 5
= Kaiser et al., 2013b; 6 = de Lang, 2011; 7 = de Rooij, 1917; 8 = Forcart, 1953; 9 = Barbour, 1912; 10 = Bethencourt Ferreira, 1898.
(O’Shea et al., 2012). A fourth specimen, from Ataüro
Island, was documented elsewhere (Kaiser et al., 2013b).
Coelognathus subradiatus was also reported from two
Lautém locations, the towns of Lospalos and Muapitine, 7
km E of Lospalos (de Lang, 2011).
New localities. During Phase VII two further specimens
were recorded, both as roadkills, one on the road from
Baucau to Venilale, just south of Baucau (USNM-HI
2827), and on the road from Manatuto to Natarbora
(USNM 580544), on the south side of the central
mountain range. In March of 2011, HK visited Timor-
Leste and photographed a road-killed individual on
the road between Dili and Railaco, in Liquiga District
(USNM-HI 2826a-c). During Phase VIII, one specimen
was collected near the Dili port (USNM 581171). This
specimen, together with the Liquica and Manatuto
records, constitute first district records, bringing to seven
the districts for which C. subradiatus has been confirmed
Natural history. Coelognathus subradiatus 1s a
Mark O'SHEA et al.
Figure 29 Adult male Coelognathus subradiatus collected at
Palapasu, Dili (USNM 581171, Locality 1). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
crepuscular to nocturnal species that exhibits a
considerable degree of habitat plasticity, occurring in a
wide variety of environments across its Lesser Sunda
range, which includes virtually every island from Lombok
to Wetar and Timor, with the notable exception of Savu.
Habitats range from coastal coconut plantations and
low-lying steppe-grasslands to monsoon and montane
rainforests, to elevations up to 1200 m (Schultz, 1996).
Mertens (1930) also commented that this snake is often
encountered in close proximity to human habitations,
and this observation has been borne out by our own
experiences on Timor (Kaiser et al., 2011; O’Shea
et al., 2012). Although Schultz (1996) considered C.
subradiatus to be primarily terrestrial, we obtained one
particularly dark specimen (USNM 579779) on Ataüro
Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b) after it had escaped into a
tree to a height of approximately 6 m, then leapt to the
ground when pursued aloft.
The prey of C. subradiatus comprises primarily
small mammals, such as rodents, which are killed by
constriction by this relatively powerful, muscular species;
birds may also be taken (Schultz, 1996). Auffenberg
(1980) reported that juvenile Lesser Sunda racers on
Komodo prey on geckos. A more catholic diet was
reported by de Lang (2011), who listed “small mammals,
birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and even insects."
Coelognathus subradiatus is oviparous, but clutch size is
largely unknown; Schultz (1996) discussed six hatchlings
that emerged from a clutch of unknown size after having
been laid in captivity by a wild-caught female.
When this species feels threatened it may elevate the
anterior portion of its body into a vertical S-shape, inflate
its neck, and make lunging strikes, biting freely if contact
is made; being completely nonvenomous, this display is
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 107
Taxonomic comments. Bethencourt Ferreira (1897)
described Coluber melanurus var. timoriensis (a synonym
of C. subradiatus) from Timor, presumably from the
Portuguese eastern end of the island, now Timor-Leste.
This specimen was collected by Francisco Newton, who
failed to provide a precise locality; it was lost in the
Museu Bocage fire of 1978.
In the Lesser Sunda Islands there appear to be two
different forms, which are referred to as “Groups” by
Schultz (1996). Group 1 comprises slender-bodied snakes
that achieve total lengths of 1200-1600 mm whereas
Group 2 includes the more heavily-built snakes that
achieve total lengths of 1500—2200 mm. Differences in
patterning were noted by both Schultz (1996) and de
Lang (2011). Racers found on Timor and the neighboring
islands of Roti and Semau would fall within Group 1,
whilst all other Lesser Sunda specimens would be part of
Group 2. However, these groups have no taxonomic status
and are purely subjective. A population of racers from
Enggano Island (402.6 km?), almost 1600 km west of the
westernmost population of Lesser Sunda C. subradiatus
on Lombok and separated by the island of Java, was
for a time treated as a subspecies of subradiatus, C. s.
enganensis (Vinciguerra, 1892), but it has lately been
treated as a full species (Das, 2012; Wallach et al., 2014).
Dendrelaphis inornatus timorensis Smith, 1927 "!
Common names. (E) Timor Bronzeback, Lesser Sunda
Treesnake. (G) Timor-Bronzenatter. (T) Samea kotuk kór
kafé (samea = snake, kotuk = back, kor kafé = brown).
Known distribution. During the early phases of
the project (2009 and 2010) Dendrelaphis inornatus
timorensis (Figure 30) was documented for Lautém
and Viqueque Districts (Kaiser et al., 2011; O’Shea et
al., 2012), whereas de Lang (2011) included Dili (Dili
District) in its distribution. It is a species commonly
documented in West Timor (Table 4).
New localities. The only voucher specimen of this
species obtained during the later phases of the project
was from the Betano “wet site” (Manufahi District;
Locality 18; USNM 579378) on the southern coast. There
were unconfirmed sightings of “treesnakes” tentatively
identified as D. i. timorensis in the Nancuro coastal forest
(Manatuto District; Locality 20) and on Ataüro Island
(Dili District) during Phases IV and VI respectively, but
no vouchers were obtained.
Natural history. This is a fast-moving and highly
elusive diurnal species that often evades capture, either
through speed or its ability to blend in with the vegetation
when motionless. It is the only member of the genus
108 Asian Herpetological Research
Figure 30 Individual of Dendrelaphis inornatus timorensis (sex not
determined) collected from low shrubs by night (USNM 573686,
Wailakurini, Viqueque District; see Kaiser et al., 2011). Photo by
Dendrelaphis to occur on Timor and one of only two
found in the Lesser Sunda Islands. Elsewhere in the
Indo-Malayan region this is a commonly encountered
and fairly well represented genus with numerous species
in Southeast Asia and the Philippines, where they are
known as “bronzebacks,” and nine species occurring in
New Guinea, the Kei Islands, Palau, the Solomon Islands,
and Australia (van Rooijen et al., 2015), where they are
known as “treesnakes.”
Timorese D. i. timorensis inhabit wooded hill country
with an understory of grass and often a geology of
black limestone outcrops (de Lang, 2011), which 1s
precisely the habitat in which one of us (AVR) observed
a specimen that evaded capture on Ataüro Island (Kaiser
et al., 2013b). Smith (1927) stated that D. i. timorensis
occured at elevations from 100-800 m, but we have
found this species to be most abundant right at sea level
in Loré, Lautém District (USNM 573687-88), where two
additional specimens evaded capture (Kaiser et al., 2011);
another evaded capture at sea level in the coastal forest at
Nancuro (Manatuto District; Locality 20).
Virtually no information exists regarding the natural
history and biology of the Timorese subspecies. The
Komodo population of the nominate form (Auffenberg,
1980) preys on geckos (Hemidactylus) and skinks
(Sphenomorphus), whilst frogs (Fejervarya) are known
from the diet of Sumbawa and Flores specimens
(Mertens, 1930). All these potential prey genera occur on
Timor. Dendrelaphis inornatus is an oviparous species
with clutch sizes reported from 2-18 (de Lang, 2011), but
no data exist specifically for D. i. timorensis.
Taxonomic comments. The subspecies D. i. timorensis
occurs on Timor and the neighboring eastern Nusa
Tenggara and southern Maluku islands of Roti, Semau,
Pantar, Alor, and Wetar. The nominate subspecies is found
on the western islands of Nusa Tenggara, west of and
including Lomblen and Savu.
Lycodon capucinus (Boie, 1827) "YY"!
Common names. (E) Common (island) Wolfsnake. (G)
Kapuzen-Wolfszahnnatter. (T) Samea lobo (samea =
snake, lobo = wolf).
Known distribution. During Phase I Lycodon capucinus
(Figure 31) was recorded from Same (Manufahi District;
Locality 17; Kaiser et al., 2011), and as a roadkill on the
Sakato-Atambua road in West Timor in Phase III (O'Shea
et al., 2012). During Phase VI it was also recorded as
common on Ataüro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b).
New localities. During Phases IV-VIII this species was
encountered with increasing frequency, primarily as
roadkills. We collected live specimens in Dili District
(grounds of the Timor Lodge Hotel, Locality 1; USNM
579781); Lautém District (Com and Raga, Localities
26 and 27; USNM 579381-82, 579494—95); Manufahi
District (Ladiki coffee forest near Same, Locality 17;
USNM 579380); and Bobonaro District (degraded forest
at Fiuren, near Balibo, Locality 9; USNM 580547). It
was also reported to occur at Malahara (Lautém District;
Locality 29; de Lang, 2011). Roadkills were documented,
and sampled when possible, from Covalima District (north
of Suai, Locality 13; USNM 579379); Baucau District
(near Baucau; USNM 580546); Aileu District (near Lahae
town); and Bobonaro District (on the Maliana-Balibo
road; USNM 580548). Lycodon capucinus has now been
recorded from seven mainland districts, and Ataüro Island
Natural history. Lycodon capucinus is a very common
and widespread, but nocturnal and secretive snake that is
easily overlooked in cursory searches, although it may be
encountered abroad at night, especially after heavy rain.
Figure 31 Adult male Lycodon capucinus from the leaf litter at the
ruins of the Portuguese pousada at Com (USNM 579494, Locality
26). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
We have found it in almost every habitat investigated,
from townships to coffee forest, and from the ruins of a
coastal pousada close to sea level, to elevations of over
1150 m (Ainaro District; Locality 16), greatly exceeding
the 600 m documented for Komodo Island specimens
(Auffenberg, 1980; Darevsky, 1964; Dunn, 1927). It
appears to have adapted well to living alongside humans
and is even found in major cities, such as the Indonesian
capital at Jakarta (van Hoesel, 1959). This was easily the
most frequently encountered snake species during our
surveys to date, with 21 specimens documented, from
juveniles to adults; two of these records were based on
sloughed skins, which could be unequivocally identified
to belong to individuals of this species based on scale
counts and head scale morphology.
Lycodon capucinus is a small species that rarely
achieves a length in excess of 600 mm, although our
highest elevation specimen (see above), a roadkill that
was sampled for tissue only, had an SVL of 580 mm and a
TTL of 720 mm. Although primarily a terrestrial species,
L. capucinus is agile and may be encountered climbing in
vegetation or on buildings. Lycodon capucinus will bite
readily when handled.
Prey of L. capucinus comprises primarily geckos,
especially perianthropic species of the genera
Hemidactylus and Gehyra, but across its extensive range
L. capucinus is reported to have taken the skink Eutropis
multifasciatus (Kopstein, 1936) and even mice (Mertens,
1930). According to McKay (2006) it also eats frogs and
reptile eggs. It is an oviparous species, and clutches of
up to eleven eggs have been reported (David and Vogel,
1996). On Timor, it has been reported as being parasitized
by tapeworms (Goldberg et al., 2010).
Taxonomic comments. Lycodon capucinus was long
treated as either a synonym or a subspecies of the
widespread South and Southeast Asian L. aulicus
(Linnaeus, 1758), to which it bears a striking resemblance,
and only relatively recently has it been consistently
treated as a distinct and separate species based on the
work of Taylor (1965) and David and Vogel (1996). This
nomenclatural history has caused considerable confusion
when the geographical range of this species needed to be
determined (Kaiser et al., 2011).
Lycodon subcinctus Boie, 1827 ""!
Common names. (E) Malayan banded Wolfsnake. (G)
(Wei-) Gebánderte Wolfsnatter. (T) Samea kadali (samea
= snake, kadali = ring).
Known distribution. In the early phases of the project a
single specimen of Lycodon subcinctus (Figure 32) was
obtained, from Mirbuti village near Same (Manufahi
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 109
District; Locality 17), and close to the project's first
collection locality for L. capucinus (Kaiser et al., 2011).
New localities. A second specimen was obtained in Raça
village (Lautém District, Locality 27; USNM 579382).
Natural history. Much less frequently encountered by us
on Timor than its congener, L. capucinus, L. subcinctus is
a secretive, nocturnal inhabitant of humid forests and dry
woodlands, both in low-lying and montane locations up
to elevations of 1660 m in Peninsular Malaysia (Smith,
1930) and 1800 m in Bali (McKay, 2006). It 1s also
reported to occur in plantations, rice paddies and other
agricultural habitats, and around human habitations (de
Lang, 2011). The latter location agrees with the first of
our two specimens, which we obtained when we were
handed a badly damaged specimen that had been killed in
a schoolyard near Same, Manufahi District (Locality 17;
see Kaiser et al., 2011).
Lycodon subcinctus is a larger species than L.
capucinus, achieving total lengths of 800-1200 mm (de
Lang, 2011). The larger size and semi-fossorial nature
of this infrequently (on Timor) encountered species may
be the basis for the “Timor krait" stories circulated by
individuals who observed this species but who were
perhaps familiar with banded kraits from other parts
of Indonesia (including Bali in the Lesser Sundas).
Indeed, its pattern of white bands on a black background,
combined with the lack of a loreal scale, afford L.
subcinctus a startling similarity to the highly venomous
species Bungarus candidus (Linnaeus, 1758) and B.
fasciatus (Schneider, 1801), with which L. subcinctus
occurs in sympatry in other parts of its range.
Although species in the genus Lycodon are primarily
terrestrial, L. subcinctus is also arboreal (McKay, 2006),
with prey consisting of geckos and skinks (de Lang,
2011). Females are oviparous, laying from 5-11 eggs (de
Taxonomic comments. Three subspecies of the widely
distributed L. subcinctus have been described. The
nominate race is found through most of Southeast Asia
and it is to this taxon that Lesser Sunda populations
Stegonotus sp." Y"!
Common names. (E) Timor Groundsnake. (G) Timor-
Schiefernatter. (T) Samea rai kór-kafé (samea = snake, rai
— ground, kór-kafé — brown).
Known distribution. There were no previous records for
the genus Stegonotus (Figure 33) from Timor, the nearest
known populations being those of S. florensis on Flores
and Sumba (Daan and Hillenius, 1966; de Rooij, 1917;
110 Asian Herpetological Research
New localities. The first specimen of the genus
Stegonotus from Timor was obtained during Phase IV,
from the coastal forest at Nancuro, near Natarbora, 8
km south of Umaboco (Manatuto District; Locality 20;
USNM 579383). A second specimen was collected by one
of us (LLA) during a personal survey, part of a research
project from Timor-Leste's national university, at Betano
“wet site" (Manufahi District; Locality 18; USNM
579384). Two further specimens, one adult and one
juvenile, were collected, in close proximity to each other
and close to the original collection point in the Nancuro
coastal forest, during Phase VII (USNM 580549—50).
Stegonotus sp. is now known to occur in southern low-
lying coastal forests in two districts (Table 4).
Natural history. Individuals of this species were found
exclusively in moist coastal forests within a short
distance of the southern coast of Timor-Leste (^ 2 km).
At Nancuro, one adult specimen was spotted moving
through the leaf litter, while another was found in the
hollow portion of a decaying log. The juvenile was found
unexpectedly, in a vertical position, under loose bark of
a standing tree. Whereas the adult in the log attempted
to escape by retreating further into the rotting wood, the
juvenile remained motionless when the bark was removed
and was easily captured.
Stegonotus is a common and well-represented genus
in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and one well familiar to
MOS, who identified it immediately upon capture of
the first (Nancuro) specimen. In PNG members of this
non-venomous genus are rarely encountered abroad
during the day, most being found on roads or on the
ground in the bush during the evenings and at night,
or discovered hiding under logs or other debris during
daylight hours (MOS, pers. obs.). Small specimens have
also been encountered inside ant plants (Myrmecophyta),
presumably hunting the skinks that also inhabit ant plant
chambers. Such microhabitats should be investigated,
should these tropical Southeast Asian-Melanesian trees
occur in Timor-Leste. Papuan Stegonotus, particularly the
large S. cucullatus (Duméril et al., 1854), will bite with
vigor and little provocation (O' Shea, 1996), and some
Timorese specimens exhibit similar behavior. Members of
the genus Stegonotus are oviparous.
Taxonomic comments. The genus Stegonotus currently
comprises ten species (Uetz and Ho&ek, 2014),
distributed throughout New Guinea (four species, at
least one also occurring in northern Australia), the
Bismarck Archipelago (one species), the d'Entrecasteaux
Archipelago (one species), the Maluku Islands (one
species), Borneo (one species), the Philippines (one
Figure 32 Adult male Lycodon subcinctus from the leaf litter at the
limestone caves near Raga (USNM 579382, Locality 27). Photo by
L3 T A ta ape
Ea 7t ul
Figure 33 Adult female Stegonotus sp., collected from the inside
of a rotting log in coastal wet forest at Nancuro (USNM 579383,
Locality 20). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
species), and the Lesser Sundas (one species reported
from Flores and Sumba). This latter taxon, S. florensis (de
Rooij, 1917), is the only member of the genus occurring
close to Timor.
Comparison of Timor specimens with the type material
of S. florensis and a variety of museum specimens
representing the other known species of Stegonotus, has
allowed us to determine that the Timor specimens belong
to an undescribed species based on scale counts and head
scale morphology. We have also been able to recognize
that the S. florensis material represents more than one
species, with those from Sumba most likely warranting
the resurrection of S. sutteri from synonymy (see Forcart,
1954). Beyond these comparisons, we have uncovered
many inconsistencies in how names have been applied to
Stegonotus populations throughout the range of the genus,
and this topic is currently the subject of a comprehensive
investigation (Christine Kaiser, unpubl. data.).
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
Family Cylindrophiidae—Asian Pipesnakes
Cylindrophis cf. boulengeri “™
Common names. (E) Boulenger's Pipesnake, Timor
Pipesnake. (G) Boulenger-Walzenschlange. (T) Samea
ulun rua (samea = snake, ulun = head, rua = two). This
snake is locally known as the “two-headed snake,” given
that the body morphology and defensive behavior of
pipesnakes do not allow for a ready identification of the
head and make it appear as if both ends of the snake
might pose a threat.
Known distribution. Cylindrophis cf. boulengeri
(Figure 34) is recorded from Timor-Leste based on eight
specimens collected by Prof. A. Bühler in 1935 at Baguia
(Baucau District, no further data) and now deposited
in the Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, Switzerland
(NHMB 12908-15). Our visit to Baguia during Phase VII
(2012) failed to produce any specimens or any recognition
from the local population and villagers; when questioned
and shown photographs, locals were unfamiliar with the
snake (O'Shea and Kaiser, 2013).
New localities. In late 2012 one of us (AVR) obtained
a specimen of C. cf. boulengeri in Lospalos, Lautém
District (USNM-FS 255499; field tag only, specimen
remaining on exhibit in Timor-Leste; photo vouchers
USNM-HI 2835a-c), the first specimen of the taxon
discovered in 77 years. We subsequently captured another
specimens in a banana plantation at the confluence of
the Comoro and Bemos Rivers on the Aileu District side
(Locality 6; USNM 581170). This secretive snake 1s now
known from three districts in Timor-Leste (Table 4).
Natural history. Pipesnakes of the genus Cylindrophis
are nocturnal, semi-fossorial, and secretive. This lifestyle
is the reason for our poor knowledge about the biology
of the species currently recognized within the genus. One
of the specimens we collected, at the confluence of the
Comoro and Bemos Rivers (Aileu District: Locality 6)
was found on the ground under a banana leaf. We had
previously considered this type of habitat unproductive,
with only a few striped treefrogs (Polypedates cf.
leucomystax) being collected, and therefore had ignored
such habitats during surveys. This 1s an excellent example
for how collector's bias can influence collecting results.
Almost nothing is known of the natural history of
Timorese Cylindrophis, although it may be presumed
that they prey on blindsnakes (/ndotyphlops and
Sundatyphlops), and possibly cylindrical skinks
(Eremiascincus) or invertebrates such as earthworms.
All species for which reproductive biology is known
are described as being ovoviviparous (Greene, 1997),
a condition we consider to be a form of livebearing
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 111
(Blackburn, 1994). However, examination of museum
specimens by one of us (SM) revealed that some
populations of Cylindrophis, which likely represent
distinct species based on morphology, may be egglaying.
Cylindrophis exhibit an unusual defensive behavior,
during which they hide the head in the coils of their body
and elevate their tails, flashing the bright or contrasting
ventral pattern in the process, a behavior reminiscent of
Asian coral snakes (e.g., Calliophis intestinalis [Laurenti,
Taxonomic comments. The populations historically
associated with C. boulengeri Roux, 1911 are known
from 12 specimens collected in the early 20* Century,
eight from Baguia, Baucau District (Forcart, 1953; see
above), one from an unspecified location in West Timor
(de Lang, 2011), and three from Wetar (Brongersma,
1933b; Roux, 1911), an island in the Indonesian province
of Maluku to the northeast of Timor and the type locality
of the species. We have been unable to locate additional
museum specimens that may belong to this species.
A specimen collected on Babar Island to the east and
originally referred to C. boulengeri (Brongersma, 1933a)
may represent a distinct and undescribed species of
Cylindrophis. Two other species occur in the vicinity of
Timor: C. opisthorhodus Boulenger, 1879 on Sumbawa,
Flores, and Lombok to the west, and C. yamdena Smith
and Sidik, 1998 on Yamdena Island in the Tanimbar
Island group, to the east (Smith and Sidik, 1998). Until
we have completed a study now underway (Kieckbusch et
al., in prep.), we conservatively consider Timor material
as C. cf. boulengeri.
Family Elapidae—Cobras and their allies
Laticauda colubrina (Schneider, 1799) "™
Common names. (E) Yellow-lipped sea krait, Colubrine
sea krait. (G) Nattern-Plattschwanz, Gelblippen-
Seeschlange. (T) Samea-tasi kor kadeli (samea-tasi = sea
snake, kor = color, kadeli = ring).
Known distribution. The sea krait Laticauda colubrina
(Figure 35) was recorded from only one location and one
specimen during the survey (Table 4), the old military
wharf at Pante Macassar, Oecusse District (Sanchez et al.,
2012). One of us (SM) observed an individual in the
water near the shore on Atatro Island (Dili District), but
was unable to capture it.
New localities. Our second specimen was obtained by
AVR on the rocky headland at Cristo Rei, near Dili (Dili
District; Locality 1; USNM-HI 2837) and subsequently
Natural history. Laticauda colubrina is an amphibious
snake, equally at home on land as in the ocean. Being
112 Asian Herpetological Research
oviparous, unlike true seasnakes, it is essential that L.
colubrina be able to move onto land in order to lay its
clutch of 6—20 eggs (Greene, 1997). This species is so
capable on land that it may be encountered at the top
of cliffs, aloft in low bushes, or in the center of small
islands (O'Shea, 2005). At first glance, a sea krait even
resembles a terrestrial elapid with its regular, imbricate,
smooth scales arranged in transverse rows, and its large
ventral plates for locomotion on land, but it 1s also highly
adapted for life in the ocean with the laterally flattened,
paddle-shaped tail typical of marine snakes, laterally
positioned valvular nostrils (Wilson, 2005), and tight-
fitting supralabial scales around the mouth.
Prey of L. colubrina comprises entirely fish, including
those species that seek protection by mimicking
Laticauda, such as the colubrine snake eel (Myrichthys
colubrinus), which is taken frequently (O'Shea, 1996;
Wilson, 2005). Although a front-fanged venomous elapid,
L. colubrina is placid and does not attempt to bite even
Taxonomic comments. Two species of the genus
Laticauda are reported from the seas around Timor, but
only L. colubrina has been positively recorded. The
other species, L. laticaudata (Linnaeus, 1758), could be
mistaken for L. colubrina by a person unfamiliar with the
characteristics that define the two species, and it is also
possible this species does not occur this far west.
Family Homalopsidae—Oriental and Australasian
Cerberus schneiderii (Schlegel, 1837) "YY"!
Common names. (E) Schneider's dog-faced watersnake,
Schneider's bockadam, (G) Hundskopf-Wassertrugnatter,
(T) Samea natar (samea = snake, natar = rice paddy).
Known distribution. During the early phases of the
survey Cerberus schneiderii (Figure 36) was found to be
relatively common in the low-lying paddy field east of
Baucau town (Baucau District). This species was reported
by de Lang (2011), from Bidau, Dili (Dili District), and
Lake Be Malae, Batugade (Bobonaro District), also on the
north coast. We were also informed of a large specimen
reportedly killed in the grounds of the Chinese Embassy
in Dili, which is located on the seafront, but were unable
to confirm this report.
New localities. During the phases covered by this report
we collected an extra voucher specimen, as a relatively
fresh roadkill, from close to the original Baucau paddy-
field location, and one of us (LLA) obtained a specimen
from the Betano “wet site" (Manufahi District; Locality
18; USNM 579392), the first southern coastal record of
the species from Timor-Leste, although de Lang (2011)
listed records from the south coast of West Timor. In
addition we collected four specimens in the mangrove
swamp at Metinaro (Dili District; Locality 3) where
they were found to occur in sympatry with Fordonia
leucobalia (see below). Including the records of de Lang
(2011), this species is now reported from four districts of
from a banana plantation near the confluence of the Comoro and
Bemos Rivers (USNM 581170, Locality 6). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Figure 35 Adult sea krait (Laticauda colubrina) from a ruined
wharf (USNM 579241, near Pante Makassar, Oecusse District;
Sanchez et al., 2012). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Figure 36 Adult Cerberus schneiderii from the mangrove swamp
at Metinaro (USNM 581173, Locality 3). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
Timor-Leste, and confirmed with voucher specimens from
three (Table 4).
Natural history. Populations of snakes in the genus
Cerberus are usually associated with inshore marine
or brackish habitats, such as mangrove swamps and
estuarine mud-flats, but all species are able to survive
in freshwater and may be found in freshwater creeks or
rivers flowing into these brackish environments (Murphy,
2007; Murphy et al., 2012); the Philippine C. microlepis
Boulenger, 1896 is the only land-locked freshwater lake
dweller (Murphy, 2007). Cerberus schneiderii is also able
to move from saltwater to freshwater habitats, but while
we have collected it in brackish mangrove swamps on
the north coast at Metinaro (Dili District; Locality 3) and
on the south coast at Betano (Manufahi District; Locality
18) we have found it in larger numbers in freshwater rice-
paddy habitats, on the north coast at Baucau (Kaiser et
al., 2011; O’Shea et al., 2012). Several specimens were
found at Metinaro (USNM 580525-26, 581173—76), of
which one was found during the late afternoon sheltering
in a mud lobster (Thalassina anomala) burrow, while
others were found in shallow muddy rivulets.
It has been suggested that Cerberus feed almost entirely
on small fish (McKay, 2006; Murphy, 2007), including
lizardfish (Synodontidae: Synodus) and gobies (Gobiidae:
Amblygobius), although other authors (e.g., Auffenberg,
1980; Voris and Murphy, 2002) reported crustacean
remains from the guts of some specimens. Whether these
were the intended prey or secondarily ingested prey-of-
prey is impossible to determine. Cerberus is a rear-fanged
venomous genus possessing Duvernoy's glands, which
contain toxic secretions to dispatch struggling prey. Since
Fordonia is carcinophagous this would enable the two
species to partition resources and survive in sympatry.
However, we suspect that the C. schneiderii living in
the rice-paddy habitat at Baucau may also be feeding on
tadpoles and juveniles of the abundant population of rice-
paddy frogs (Fejervarya).
No reproductive data currently exist for C. schneiderii,
but the genus is known to be livebearing, as are most
obligatorily aquatic snakes, and litter sizes for Australian
C. australis have been quoted as 6-8 (Shine, 1991a) or
even as high as 26 (Gow, 1989), while de Lang (2011)
provides a maximum litter size for Cerberus of 47
Taxonomic comments. The taxonomy of homalopsid
snakes formerly known as Cerberus rynchops (Schneider,
1837) was recently revised (Murphy et al., 2012). The
taxon had previously been divided into an Australo-
Papuan population, recognized as C. australis (Gray,
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 113
1842), and a localized Philippine population, now
known as C. microlepis (Murphy, 2007). The taxon C.
rynchops was then used for all other populations until
the latest revision restricted C. rynchops to populations
on mainland Asia and the Andaman Islands. A new name
was proposed for Palau populations (C. dunsoni Murphy
et al., 2012) and the name C. schneiderii was resurrected
for all other island and Southeast Asian populations.
In most respects, Timor specimens fall within
the characters given by Murphy et al. (2012) for C.
schneiderii, although there are some differences, notably
in the dorsal head scalation. Since few specimens have
been collected from this southeastern corner of the C.
schneiderii range, the precise taxonomic status of the
intervening Wallacean populations may require additional
research, especially as C. schneiderii is believed to be a
species complex (John Murphy, pers. comm.).
Fordonia leucobalia (Schlegel, 1837) "™Y™
Common names. (E) White-bellied mangrove snake,
Crab-eating mangrove snake. (G) Krebs-Wassertrugnatter.
(T) Samea parapa kabun-mutin (samea = snake, parapa =
mangrove, kabun-mutin = white belly).
Known distribution. Fordonia leucobalia (Figure 37)
was not previously recorded for Timor-Leste and only a
single record exists for its presence in West Timor (Peters,
1876), where it was collected in the mangrove swamp at
Atapupu, located on the northern coast between Timor-
Leste and the Oecusse exclave (Table 4).
New localities. During Phase VI a single specimen was
collected from the mangrove swamp at Metinaro (Dili
District; Locality 3; USNM 579780), the first specimen of
the taxon from Timor-Leste, only the second from Timor,
and the first from Timor in 135 years. We were able to
obtain another specimen in the same locality during Phase
VIII (USNM 581177).
Natural history. Fordonia leucobalia 1s an inhabitant
of mangrove and estuarine mud flats but it may be found
considerable distances upstream in tidal rivers and up to
850 km upstream in freshwater watercourses. Nocturnal
in habit, it shelters by day in the burrows of fiddler crabs
(Uca spp.) or mud lobsters (Thalassina anomala), only
venturing onto the surface of the mud at night when the
tide is returning. Fordonia is a carcinophagous species,
preying primarily on crabs. Crustaceans recorded in the
diet of Fordonia (Gow, 1989; Murphy, 2007; Shine,
1991b; Voris and Murphy, 2002) include the crabs Uca sp.
(Ocypodidae), Macrophthalmus sp. (Macrophthalmidae),
Dotillopsis brevitarsis (Dotillidae), Sarmatium germaini,
and an unidentified crab genus (Sesarmidae), and the
mud lobster Thalassina anomala (Thalassinidae). Prey
114 Asian Herpetological Research
is grasped and dismembered with the legs broken off
before the body is swallowed, although Voris and Murphy
(2002) suggest that struggling crabs may autotomize their
own legs. Fordonia is technically a rear-fanged venomous
snake possessing Duvernoy's glands and enlarged,
grooved rear-teeth, and its fangs are long enough to
penetrate the carapace of decapods, and the venom is
toxic to crabs (Kopstein, 1931; Savitzky, 1983; van
Hoesel, 1959). Fordonia is a livebearing species, females
producing litters of 2-17 neonates (Murphy, 2007).
Taxonomic comments. Currently Fordonia is a
monotypic genus occurring from mainland Asia
(Bangladesh) to the northern Philippines (Luzon) and
south into the Australo-Papuan realm (Murphy, 2007).
Family Pythonidae—P ythons
Liasis mackloti Duméril and Bibron, 1844 ""!
Common names. (E) Macklot's water Python, White-
lipped Python. (G) Timor-Wasserpython, (T) Fohorai-atan
(fohorai = python, atan = slave). We have been unable to
learn the origin of the peculiar Tetun common name.
Known distribution. During Phase III Liasis mackloti
(Figure 38) was documented from a single live specimen
in Dili (Dili District) and roadkills in Baucau and northern
Manatuto Districts (O’Shea et al., 2012). De Lang (2011)
also reported a specimen from Dili. This species was
also encountered as roadkills in West Timor, enroute and
returning from the Oecusse exclave (O'Shea et al., 2012).
Given our records and those shown on the distribution
map in de Lang (2011), we consider the distribution of
this species to be near-coastal and ranging throughout
Timor in low-lying wetland habitats.
New localities. During Phase IV Liasis mackloti
was encountered with some frequency, unfortunately
only as roadkills, on the roads east and west of Suai
(Covalima District; Locality 13; USNM 579390; USNM-
HI 2782-83; two of these specimens, Christine M.
Dwyer field numbers 802-03, deposited in the USNM
Biorepository, are tissue vouchers only). Five roadkills
were documented, photographed, and locality data were
recorded; specimens that were not in a too advanced
state of decomposition were sampled for tissue. Liasis
m. mackloti has now been confirmed from four mainland
districts (Table 4).
Natural history. Liasis mackloti is a water python that
inhabits inundated lowland habitats such as rice paddies
or overgrown coastal creeks. Snakes are most frequently
encountered in the wet season, when many become road-
killed casualties when traveling across their fragmented
The nominate subspecies L. m. mackloti, found on
Figure 37 Adult Fordonia leucobalia from a mud lobster burrow
in the mangrove swamp at Metinaro (USNM 579780, Locality 3).
Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Figure 38 Unvouchered adult Liasis mackloti collected from
beneath a container adjacent to the seafront in Dili (Locality 1).
Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Timor, is a relatively large snake that can achieve a
maximum length of approximately 1.6 m, intermediate
between the smaller L. m. savuensis and the larger but
otherwise rather similar L. m. dunni Stull, 1932. It is a
relatively powerful constrictor capable of subduing small-
to medium-sized mammals and water birds. Various
authors (e.g., de Lang, 2011) have included bird eggs,
reptiles, and even frogs and fish in the diet of L. mackloti
but there have been no studies of this species' diet in
nature. The possibility that it may represent a climax
predator in shallow freshwater habitats is supported by
the feeding ecology of its close relative, L. fuscus, which
is documented to take small crocodiles in southern New
Guinea and northern Australia (Parker, 1982; Wilson and
Swan, 2003). All pythons are oviparous, and females of L.
mackloti have been reported to produce clutches of 8-14
eggs in captivity (Ross and Marzec, 1990).
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
Taxonomic comments. Liasis mackloti has three
described subspecies, with only the nominate form, L. m.
mackloti, occurring on Timor. The other subspecies are
L. m. dunni from Wetar, northeast of Timor, and L. m.
savuensis, from Savu, southwest of Timor. Liasis mackloti
is very closely related to L. fuscus of northern Australia
and southern New Guinea (Rawlings et al., 2004),
so much so that southern Papuan water pythons were
originally treated as L. mackloti (Parker, 1982). Water
pythons in the Northern Territory, Australia, were found
to be more closely related to Indonesian water pythons
than eastern Australian/New Guinea L. fuscus (Rawlings
et al., 2004) but the authors of this finding did not commit
to referring to this population as L. mackloti.
) [IV, VII]
Malayopython reticulatus (Schneider, 1801
Common names. (E) Reticulated Python. (G)
Netzpython. (T) Fohorai-boot (fohorai = python, boot =
Known distribution. During Phase III we encountered a
number of captive adult reticulated pythons around Dili
(Dili District) and juveniles in Viqueque District (O’Shea
et al., 2012) (Figure 39). A captive specimen in Oecusse
District was reported elsewhere (Sanchez et al., 2012).
De Lang (2011) also reported specimens from Laleia
(northern Manatuto District) and Malahara (Lautém
New localities. During Phase IV a locally caught
specimen was photographed and its tissue sampled at
the Convent of St. Antony d'Lisboa (Manufahi District;
Locality 19), and during Phase VII a dead specimen was
encountered on the road between Natarbora and Fatucahi,
approximately 6 km NE of the convent. This specimen
was not a roadkill, there was evidence it had been killed
elsewhere and dragged onto the road. The condition of the
cadaver made tissue sampling impossible but a voucher
photograph was taken (USNM-HI 2788). Malayopython
reticulatus has now been confirmed for six mainland
districts (Table 4).
Natural history. Malayopython reticulatus is the longest
snake species in the world, the largest potentially reliable
account being that of a 9.98 m specimen killed and
measured with a surveyor's tape in Sulawesi in 1912
(Murphy and Henderson, 1997). Other large specimens
have been reported from the Philippines, Malay
Peninsula, Borneo, and Sumatra, but individuals on small
islands are often considerably smaller, perhaps due to
island miniaturization or due to the hunting pressure on
larger individuals (McKay, 2006). The largest Timorese
specimen encountered during the survey was a captive
from Becora (Dili District; Locality 2), with a total length
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 115
just over 3.5 m.
Malayopython reticulatus is an inhabitant of rainforests
and monsoon forests, particularly in close proximity
to watercourses, where young specimens sleep on
overhanging branches and plunge into the water below
if they detect the approach of a potential threat (O’Shea
et al., 2004). This vegetated habitat also affords pythons
the cover required to function as ambush predators of
vertebrates, such as mammals. The species is also often
found in bat caves, with these mammals providing
a constant food source (McKay, 2006). However,
reticulated pythons may also be found in cultivated or
agricultural habitats, such as plantations (O’Shea, 2007),
and individuals have been known to enter towns and even
large cities (Cox, 1991). Several Timorese specimens
were reportedly captured by locals on the outskirts of the
capital, Dili. The species may occur at elevations from sea
level to at least 1500 m (Malkmus et al., 2002; Manthey
and Grossmann, 1997).
The prey of M. reticulatus is composed primarily of
mammals, with birds and large lizards occasional prey
items (Malkmus et al., 2002). The size range of mammals
consumed by reticulated pythons is astounding: small
or young pythons prey on rodents, but at 3-4 m body
length their preference changes and they are documented
to prey upon much larger and potentially more difficult
or dangerous mammals, such as pangolins, porcupines,
monkeys, wild pigs, mouse deer (Shine et al., 1998),
goats and adult deer (Taylor, 1922), sun bear (Fredriksson,
2005), and, on rare occasions, even humans (McKay,
2006). There exist anecdotal reports of leopards being
killed, and one of us (MOS) encountered an injured M.
reticulatus of approximately 3.0 m total length in Thailand
that had obviously come off badly in an encounter with
Figure 39 Unvouchered captive individual of Malayopython
reticulatus from the Convent of St. Antony d'Lisboa (Locality 19).
Photo by Mark O'Shea.
116 Asian Herpetological Research
a large feline. Shine et al. (1998) reported that females
shift their attention to large prey species at a smaller size
than males. Malayopython reticulatus is oviparous, with
females of 5.5—6.0 m body length producing clutches of
up to 100 eggs (McKay, 2006).
Taxonomic comments. For most of the two centuries
following its description by Johann Gottlob Schneider
(1801), the reticulated python remained in the A fro-Asian
genus Python. However, the species 1s morphologically
and biochemically quite distinct from all other members
of this genus, with the exception of M. timoriensis.
Rawlings et al. (2008) determined that the taxa reticulatus
and timoriensis were sufficiently distinct phylogenetically
from other species in the genus Python to warrant
separate generic recognition. In a recent paper, Reynolds
et al. (2014), provided the genus name Malayopython
in recognition of the type locality for the species M.
reticulatus as the Malay Archipelago (fide Alfred Russel
Wallace). By using the genus name Malayopython, we
follow the recommendations of Kaiser et al. (20132).
Malayopython reticulatus is the most widely
distributed python in Asia. The island of Timor lies
at its extreme southern limit but the species has been
recorded from virtually the entire Indo-Malayan and
Philippine Archipelagos, east of Lydekker's Line and as
far north on mainland Southeast Asia as Myanmar. The
northernmost limit of its range is currently Itbayat Island
(N 20.75°, E 121.83°), in the northern Philippine Batanes
Group, only 200 km south of Taiwan, China (O’Shea
and Lazell, 2008). Despite this extensive geographical
range only two subspecies are currently recognized as
distinct from the nominate form, M. r. jampeanus (Auliya
et al., 2002) and M. r. saputrai (Auliya et al. 2002), both
from isolated islands south of Sulawesi (Auliya et al.,
2002); all other proposed subspecies have no scientific
validity (Kaiser et al., 2013a). Even so, it would be
presumptuous to assume that all other populations belong
to the nominate subspecies M. r. reticulatus, and for that
reason no subspecific designation is used to distinguish
the Timorese population below the species level.
Conservation. Malayopython reticulatus is a species
listed on CITES Appendix II and therefore protected
from international trade. However, unlike the smaller
Liasis mackloti, it is being harvested for skins, meat,
and gall bladders (e.g., Iskandar and Erdelen, 2006), and
this highly destructive activity may exert a much greater
pressure on wild populations than the exportation of live
specimens to the trade. Despite its abundance in other
parts of its range M. reticulatus does not appear to be a
commonly encountered species on Timor.
Indotyphlops braminus (Daudin, 1803
Common names. (E) Brahminy blindsnake. (G)
Blumentopfschlange, (T) Samea matan delek isin lotuk
(samea — snake, matan delek — blind, isin lotuk — small
Known distribution. During Phase I we collected
vouchers of this widespread, parthenogenetic species
(Figure 40), two from Ladiki, near Same Manufahi
District, and one from Loihuna, Viqueque Districts
(Kaiser et al., 2011).
New localities. During the later phases of the survey, six
specimens of 7. braminus were collected and vouchered.
Three were taken in the gardens of the Pousada de
Maubisse (elevation 1495 m; Ainaro District; Locality
16; USNM 579373-75), our highest record for a snake
in Timor-Leste. Given the means by which the ancestral
stock of this population probably arrived at this location,
in plant pots, we do not consider this a naturally occurring
elevation record. At much lower altitudes individual
specimens were collected at the Timor Lodge Hotel, Dili
(Dili District; Locality 1; USNM 579778) and in the ruins
of the Pousada de Com (Lautém District, Locality 26;
USNM 579496), both north coast localities. A specimen
was also vouchered at the Convent of St. Antony d'Lisboa,
Fatucahi (Manufahi District; Locality 19; USNM 565896)
after it was found protruding from the cloaca of a Black-
spined toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus; see O'Shea
et al., 2013). Indotyphlops braminus has now been
documented from six mainland districts.
Natural history. One commonly used vernacular name
for Indotyphlops braminus is “Flowerpot Snake,”
(German: Blumentopfschlange) a name that these
pencil-thin, small snakes (total length up to 180 mm)
earned because they are often found either in the root
balls of plants in plant pots, or in the humid darkness
underneath plant pots. A close association with tropical
plants exported during trade is likely the secret to how 7.
braminus became the most widely distributed snake in the
world. It is the only known obligatorily parthenogenetic
snake species (no male has ever been documented;
see Booth et al. 2014 for a review of facultative
parthenogenesis in pythons), and as such only a single
adult specimen is required to colonize a new habitat.
Since these snakes often inhabit the soil of tropical plant
root balls, they can easily be transported internationally
within plants and establish colonies wherever they arrive.
Snakes tend to be more resistant to the effects of plant
quarantine than insect larvae or other invertebrates,
and thus a bridgehead can easily be established. This is
Mark O'SHEA et al.
Figure 40 Specimen of /ndotyphlops braminus from the leaf litter
at the Portuguese pousada at Com (USNM 579496, Locality 26).
Photo by Mark O'Shea.
undoubtedly how the population of Z. braminus became
established at an uncharacteristically high elevation in the
gardens of the former Portuguese Governor's pousada at
Maubisse. /ndotyphlops braminus 1s an oviparous species,
producing clutches of 1—8 eggs (de Lang, 2011; McKay,
Like all blindsnakes, 7. braminus is a fossorial species
that is more commonly found on the surface when
flooded out of burrows by heavy rain. Its rudimentary
eyes are simple pigmented areas under translucent scales
that warn the snake when it has been uncovered, and this
triggers the response to burrow rapidly. Prey comprises
soft-bodied invertebrates, primarily termite and ant larvae
and eggs (de Lang, 2011). This small snake may itself
become the prey of many larger vertebrates, including the
pipesnake Cylindrophis cf. boulengeri and the introduced
bufonid Duttaphrynus melanostictus (O'Shea et al.,
Taxonomic comments. The genus /ndotyphlops was
recently erected by Hedges et al. (2014) to accommodate
the South Asian blindsnake clade. Prior to this
revision, the species braminus was placed in the genus
Ramphotyphlops, which is now restricted to Western
Common names. (E) Blindsnakes. (G) Wurmschlangen,
Blindschlangen. (T) Samea matan delek (samea — snake,
matan delek — blind).
Known distribution. A series of seemingly aberrant
Indotyphlops were collected on Ataüro Island and
were documented elsewhere (Kaiser et al., 2013b) as
Ramphotyphlops sp. * Ataüro'.
New localities. A striped /ndotyphlops (Figure 41A)
collected at an altitude of over 905 m in a rock pile on the
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 117
Tilomar road in Covalima District (Locality 15; USNM
579376) during Phase IV, could not be attributed to
either Z. braminus or Sundatyphlops polygrammicus (see
below) and is recorded here as /ndotyphlops sp. ‘Tilomar’.
Similarly, an unusual /ndotyphlops with a bluish body
coloration (Figure 41B) was collected on the trail to Mt.
Mundo Perdido, Viqueque District (Locality 21; USNM
580542) at an elevation of 1162 m; we recognize it here
as Indotyphlops sp. ‘Mundo Perdido.’ We considered that
the coloration of this individual might be due to incipient
ecdysis, but examination of the two injured areas and
the head, as well as of the specimen after several months
in preservative, do not support this idea. Both of these
mainland specimens, as well as the series from Ataüro
Island, await closer examination. Currently all three are
incertae sedis within Indotyphlops.
Natural history. No natural history notes are available
for the two aberrant /ndotyphlops specimens from
Tilomar (USNM 579376) and Mt. Mundo Perdido
(USNM 580542), although they were both found
sheltering under rocks at relatively high elevations, 905
and 1162 m respectively, the highest recorded for any
Figure 41 (A) Aberrant specimen of /ndotyphlops from under a
rock pile at Tilomar (USNM 579376, Locality 15, elevation 905 m).
The fine lined pattern along the body indicates that this individual is
not conspecific with 7. braminus, and we refer to it as Indotyphlops
sp. ‘Tilomar.’ (B) Aberrant specimen of Indotyphlops from the
path to Mt. Mundo Perdido (USNM 580542, Locality 21, elevation
1162 m), showing injuries and a bluish, presumably pre-ecdysis,
coloration. Photos by Mark O'Shea.
118 Asian Herpetological Research
Timorese typhlopid, excluding the artificially introduced
I. braminus at Maubisse (see above). Both locations
where these two snakes were found are remote, at the end
of a road into a highland area and along a mountain trail,
respectively, and it seems unlikely that either of these
snakes were transported to their respective locations by
the agencies of man.
) [IV, VI]
Sundatyphlops polygrammicus (Schlegel, 1839
Common names. (E) Timor blindsnake. (G) Timor-
Wurmschlange, Timor-Blindschlange. (T) Samea matan
delek isin baibain (samea = snake, matan delek = blind,
isin baibain = normal body size).
Known distribution. No specimens of Sundatyphlops
polygrammicus (Figure 42) were collected during Phases
I-III, although Forcart (1953) reported eight specimens,
now in the Basel collection (NHMB 12888-95), collected
by Prof. A. Bühler near Baguia (Baucau District).
New localities. During Phase IV, a large specimen of
Sundatyphlops polygrammicus (Figure 42) was collected,
in heavy rain as it climbed a sandstone cliff-face near
a path, on the Trilolo River, close to Same (Manufahi
District; Locality 17). A second specimen was collected
during Phase VII at the “Carlia site" at Afacaimau
(Baucau District; Locality 23; USNM 580543).
Natural history. Sundatyphlops polygrammicus is
an infrequently encountered species, with only two
specimens collected in eight survey phases. As with
most blindsnakes, S. polygrammicus 1s rarely seen on
the surface except during or following heavy rain. Our
Trilolo River specimen (USNM 579377) was collected as
it climbed a sandstone cliff-face besides the path down to
the river, the only reptile or amphibian encountered by the
entire team during an evening search in heavy rain.
Like other typhlopid snakes, S. polygrammicus is
a predator of soft-bodied invertebrates, primarily the
larvae and eggs of termites and ants, but its larger size
(larger than species such as Z. braminus) should place
adult ants and termites, and possibly also beetle larvae,
within its dietary range. Large numbers of prey items
may be consumed 1n rapid succession, from 50 to over
500 termites (de Lang, 2011). However, the majority of
natural history notes available for this species relate to
the former populations from Queensland, Australia, and
Western Province, Papua New Guinea, which are now
treated as a separate species in a different genus, Anilios
torresianus (see Taxonomic comments below).
Taxonomic comments. The genus Sundatyphlops was
recently erected by Hedges et al. (2014) to accommodate
a clade of exclusively Lesser Sunda blindsnakes. Prior
to this revision, the species polygrammicus was placed
in the genus Ramphotyphlops. While this most recent
taxonomic arrangement will still need to stand the test
of time, Sundatyphlops 1s the most current available
name for polygrammicus, and our use of this name here
should not be misconstrued as a taxonomic endorsement
but merely an acknowledgment of acceptable research.
Sundatyphlops polygrammicus is currently believed
to contain five subspecies distributed throughout the
Lesser Sunda Islands, with the nominate form present on
Timor (de Lang, 2011; Hedges et al., 2014). With three
of the other subspecies endemic to Sumba, Lombok,
and Flores, and a fourth reported from Sumbawa and
neighbouring Komodo and Moyo, it is unlikely that the
rest of this considerable range is inhabited by just the
nominate subspecies. This is a taxon clearly in need of
revision. As formerly recognized, S. polygrammicus was
a polyphyletic species and caused Hedges et al. (2014)
to resurrect torresianus (now in the genus Anilios) for
Queensland and southern Papuan populations, and to
confine S. polygrammicus to Lesser Sunda populations.
Family Viperidae—True Vipers and Pitvipers
Trimeresurus (Trimeresurus) insularis (Kramer, 1977)
Common names. (E) Lesser Sunda Island Pitviper, Island
Pitviper, Lesser Sunda White-lipped Pitviper. (G) Insel-
Bambusotter, Wetar-Bambusotter. (T) Samodok (a proper
Known distribution. During the first three research
phases, Trimeresurus insularis was documented from three
mainland districts (Baucau, Lautém, Viqueque; see Kaiser
et al., 2011; O'Shea et al., 2012). It was also reported
from Atauro Island (Kaiser et al., 2013b). Bethencourt
Ferreira (1898) reported a juvenile specimen from Aipello
(Liquiga District), and de Lang (2011) included Dili (Dili
District) and additional localities in Baucau and Lautém
Districts, bringing to five the number of districts where
this pitviper has been recorded. Trimeresurus insularis is
also common and widely distributed in West Timor, with
specimens being documented enroute and returning from
the Oecusse exclave (Sanchez et al., 2012).
New localities. The later phases produced additional live
specimens from Lautém District at Raça village (Locality
27; USNM 579386-87) and Com (Locality 26; USNM
579493); from Manufahi District at Betano (“wet site,”
Locality 19; USNM 579385); from Manatuto District
(Nancuro coastal forest, Natarbora, S of Umaboco,
Locality 20; USNM 580551; Figure 43); and a road-
killed specimen from Bobonaro District on road between
Bobonaro and Maliana road (near Locality 12). The
Bobonaro specimen was in too poor a condition to
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
voucher, and we instead documented it photographically
(USNM-HI 2791). Trimeresurus insularis is now known
to occur in eight mainland districts and on Ataüro Island,
but thus far not at elevations over 900 m.
Natural history. With its lithe body shape and prehensile
tail, the island pitviper T. insularis, is usually considered
an arboreal species, but most specimens encountered
during our surveys have been found on the ground, at
night in relatively wet habitats, waiting in ambush for
prey. Prey appears to consist largely of frogs, particularly
rice-paddy frogs (genus Fejervarya; HK, pers. obs.) but
it is possible that small mammals or lizards may also be
taken on occasion, as reported by de Lang (2011) from
other islands in the archipelago. The most common color
phase is green but cyan coloration is known from Komodo
(de Lang, 2011; MOS, pers. obs.), and bright yellow
occurs on Wetar and Timor-Leste (USNM 581178). As
with most pitvipers, T. insularis is a livebearing species.
This species (under the generic name Cryptelytrops)
was recorded as a paratenic host of spargana tapeworms
(Cestoda) by Goldberg et al. (2010).
At this point in time this is the only terrestrial snake
known to occur on Timor or in Timor-Leste, which
includes Ataüro Island to the north, capable of delivering
a lethal bite to a human. Deaths following the bites
of T. insularis are on record in Timor-Leste and at the
very least a bite and ensuing envenomation can be an
unpleasant experience (MOS, pers. obs.).
Taxonomic comment. Until recently, we referred to
this species as Cryptelytrops insularis (e.g., Goldberg
et al., 2010; Kaiser et al., 2011). We here follow the
nomenclature proposed by David et al. (2011), which
we believe to be correct after a careful reading of their
assessment. According to these authors, Trimeresurus
viridis Lacépéde, 1804 (= T. albolabris insularis Kramer,
1977) is the true type species of the genus Trimeresurus,
and not Coluber gramineus Shaw, 1802, as previously
believed. Rearrangement of the nomenclature requires
that the species insularis bear the generic name
Trimeresurus, with the optional use of the subgeneric
name Trimeresurus to preserve added taxonomic
information. The genus Cryptelytrops Malhotra and
Thorpe, 2004 is now considered a junior synonym of
Crocodylus porosus Schneider, 1801 "YY V"!
Common names. (E) Saltwater crocodile, Estuarine
crocodile, Naked-neck crocodile, Indo-Pacific crocodile.
(G) Leistenkrokodil, Salzwasserkrokodil. (T) Lafa'ek tasi
(Lafa'ek = crocodile, tasi = sea).
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 119
Figure 42 Individual of Sundatyphlops polygrammicus from under
a flat rock in a disturbed area south of Baucau (USNM 580543,
Locality 23). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Figure 43 Adult female Trimeresurus insularis (green phase)
found in ground vegetation in coastal wet forest at Nancuro (USNM
580551, Locality 20). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Known distribution. During earlier phases we
documented free-living crocodiles in the Malailala River
(Lautém District), and captives caught locally at Uma
Boot (Viqueque District). One captive (Figure 44) from
the south coast near Betano (Manufahi District; near
Locality 18) has been kept in an enclosure in the town
of Aileu (Aileu District) for nearly a decade, while a
juvenile was kept in an old oil drum nearby (Kaiser et al.,
New localities. During Phase IV we documented
another captive crocodile on the Fatucahi to Betano
road (Manufahi District; Table 5), which local residents
had confined to an old oil drum. During Phase V a large
adult crocodile was seen stalking water buffalo calves
on the southern shore of Lake Ira Lalaro at Malahara
(Lautém District; Locality 29; USNM-HI 2798). In 2012,
a specimen was photographed at Tibar, a popular beach
area west of Dili (Liquiga District; USNM-HI 2836). In
120 Asian Herpetological Research
2013 (Phase VII), we documented crocodiles on riverine
sand banks along the north coast road in Lautém District
Natural history. The saltwater crocodile is the most
widely distributed crocodile in the Australasian region and
the largest crocodilian in the world, achieving lengths of
over 6.0 m (Wilson, 2005) and weights in excess of 1300
kg (Alderton, 1991; Steel, 1989). It is the climax predator
wherever it occurs. This species 1s the only crocodilian
found in Timorese waters where it has achieved
mythological status as part of the island’s creation story
(Kaiser et al., 2009; Morris, 2011). Many local people
respect the crocodile, but this respect is not reciprocated,
as crocodiles are responsible for an increasing number
of human fatalities, usually fishermen or children near
the water's edge, every year (B. Sidelau, pers. comm.).
Reporting of such incidences is not universal, and the
real impact on the human population is as yet unknown
(HK and MOS, pers. obs.). Crocodiles are most common
in estuarine river mouths or mangrove swamps, where
the turbid water obscures their presence. We have
observed them lingering under bridges along the coast
roads, basking on riverine sandbanks, and resting nearly
submerged in water among mangrove roots, but they
may also arrive on sandy beaches close to major towns
or tourist locations (J. Ramos-Horta, pers. comm.). There
exists a land-locked population, estimated to number in
excess of 300 individuals, in Timor-Leste's largest lake,
Lake Ira Lalaro (Lautém District: Locality 29; Middleton
et al., 2006; M. Mendes and C. Trainor, pers. comm.).
Taxonomic comments. It is interesting to note that the
population in Lake Ira Lalaro, a freshwater catchment in a
limestone polje, is isolated by distance (9 km by air to the
nearest coastline, with the 934 m high Paitxau Mountain
range in the way) and altitude (at an elevation of nearly
500 m) from other saltwater crocodile populations.
Therefore, this isolate may be considered a population of
interest for studies of isolated crocodile populations.
Crocodile attacks. As human activity along the coastline
and the shores of Lake Ira Lalaro has increased, reports
of crocodile attacks including numerous human fatalities
have risen dramatically. While there are currently no
formal statistics on these attacks, we have heard reports
with greater frequency during every research phase,
and there is increased awareness on the part of the
government that this might need to be considered an
important public health issue (HK, pers. obs.). It appears
to us that in the mindset of the Timorese populace, a
people that has experienced great violence in the recent
past and which is fighting to emerge from extreme
poverty, such attacks may simply be considered a fact
of normal life, akin to motorcycle accidents or falls
Table 5 Records of crocodilians and turtles for the districts of Timor-Leste. Black circles indicate previously known records, red circles
denote new records.
Taxon o 3 S 3 i References*
o 3 E B E E S g S 8 £ 9 2.
a 5 8 S T — — o D nd S 3 E o
a S 3 = Ne E s g g a
= E E: 8 $5 = = £ E SG z ES 9 S
< < m m oO A A BA FA 3 2 2 O p
Crocodylus porosus e. e. e. 1-4
Chelodina mccordi timorensis e. 1
Chelonia mydas e. e. 1,2
Eretmochelys imbricata e. 2
Mauremys reevesii e. 1,6
Pelodiscus sinensis 5
'References are identified numerically as follows: 1 = Kaiser et al., 2011; 2 = this paper; 3 = Kaiser et al., 2009; 4 = de Rooij, 1917; 5 =
Bethencourt Ferreira, 1898; 6 — Kaiser et al., 2010.
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
Figure 44 Captive Crocodylus porosus in an enclosure at Aileu (see
Kaiser et al., 2009, 2013c). Photo by Mark O’Shea.
from coconut palms. However, crocodile attacks do not
have to be part of a valiant, post-conflict socioeconomic
struggle. In an earlier report (Kaiser et al., 2009), we
outlined some of the challenges resulting from the
interactions between humans and crocodiles, as well as
some of the misconceptions about living with crocodiles
as neighbors. While there are no simple solutions, it
does not appear that any systematic evaluation of the
issue has taken place. We therefore propose that the
Government of Timor-Leste make reports of crocodile
attacks compulsory (including name and age of the victim
as well as the locality, and the activity during which the
attack occurred) and form an inter-ministerial task force,
to include members from departments handling public
health, internal security, environment, and tourism, to
create and implement an educational plan so that the risk
of death from crocodile attacks can be minimized.
Family Cheloniidae—Sea Turtles
Chelonia mydas (Linneaus, 1758)
Common names. (E) Pacific Green Sea Turtle. (G)
Suppenschildkróte, Grüne Meeresschildkróte. (T) Lenuk
tasi kór-matak (lenuk tasi = sea turtle, kór-matak = green).
Known distribution. There have not been any confirmed
records of Chelonia mydas for Timor-Leste. However,
it is listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
(Seminoff, 2004) as native in that country.
New localities. During Phase IV we found a dismembered
carapace of C. mydas above the shoreline in the Nancuro
coastal forest, Natarbora, S of Umaboco (Manatuto
District; Locality 20; Table 5). The carapace was re-
constructed using beach sand for support and a voucher
photograph was obtained (Figure 45, USNM-HI 2792).
Natural history. This turtle may achieve a carapace
length of 1.5 m (Wilson, 2005) and weights up to 200 kg
(Spotila, 2004). Chelonia mydas migrates long distances
between breeding beaches, the open ocean, and shallow,
inshore, clear water bays with sea grass where they
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 121
graze on algae and other marine vegetation. Adults are
primarily, if not totally, herbivorous, but juveniles do
include marine animals in their diets (Wilson, 2005).
The lifespan of this turtle may exceed 50 years (Zug and
Taxonomic comments. Some authors recognize two,
others three, subspecies of C. mydas. The population
on the coast of Timor could be attributed to either C. m.
agassizi (Bocourt, 1868) or C. m. japonica (Thunberg,
Conservation. Chelonia mydas is an endangered species
that was harvested well into the 20" century as part of the
natural products trade, for its eggs, and for its meat for
turtle soup (the German name Suppenschildkrote = “turtle
used for soup" refers to the usage of the species as part
of human diet). Although such trade is now banned, it 1s
very difficult to prevent further exploitation of this turtle
or its nests in economically challenged countries where
a specimen may represent a financial windfall. We have
on at least three occasions observed individuals offering
sea turtle eggs, of uncertain species affinity, for sale
along the main coastal road in Dili, with neat displays of
four eggs per order sold alongside of the day's catch of
fish or octopus. Whereas this type of trade is illegal in
Timor-Leste, timing hinders enforcement, given that one
motivated buyer may take the proof and leave no grounds
for legal action. This same comment regarding local
exploitation equally applies to other sea turtle species,
including Eretmochelys imbricata, the only other species
so far identified during our surveys.
Figure 45 Carapace of a hunted and killed specimen of Chelonia
mydas, of which we found and reassembled all elements, just inland
from the shore at the Nancuro Protected Area (Locality 20). Even
though the remaining portions of the skeleton were missing, we
were able to determine that there was human involvement by the
presence of recent (i.e., not healed) harpoon damage. The flashlight
(length = 146 mm) is provided as a scale. Photo by Mark O'Shea.
122 Asian Herpetological Research
Eretmochelys imbricata (Linneaus, 1766) `
Common names. (E) (Pacific) Hawksbill (Sea) Turtle.
(G) Echte Karettschildkróte. (T) Lenuk tasi eretmochelys
(lenuk tasi = sea turtle, ibun = beak, makitik = hawk).
Known distribution. No confirmed records existed for
Eretmochelys imbricata for Timor-Leste.
New localities. During Phase V the carapace of a
juvenile specimen of E. imbricate was found on Jaco
Island (Lautém District; Locality 30; Table 5). A voucher
photograph was obtained (Figure 46, USNM-HI 2793).
Natural history. Adults of E. imbricata may achieve
a carapace length of up to 1.0 m (Wilson, 2005) and a
weight approaching 80 kg (Spotila, 2004). Although
this highly migratory species may be encountered in
a wide variety of marine habitats, from open ocean to
mangrove swamps and estuarine river mouths, it is most
often associated with the clear, shallow waters of coral
reefs, where it feeds primarily on sponges (Porifera).
Hawksbill turtles also prey upon molluscs (Mollusca),
jellyfish (Scyphozoa), including highly venomous
species, sea combs (Ctenophora), sea anemones and
soft corals (Anthozoa), and marine algae (Ernst et al.,
1994). Juveniles are solely carnivorous (Wilson, 2005).
Hawksbill turtles may live for 30—50 years (Ernst et al.,
Taxonomic comments. Two subspecies are recognized,
with the Indo-Pacific populations belonging to E. i. bissa
Conservation. Eretmochelys imbricata is a critically
endangered species that has suffered historically from
harvesting for the turtle shell industry, a practice now
outlawed but continuing. Given their size, they are also
harvested for food, and their eggs are collected from
nesting sites or from slaughtered females.
Family Geoemydidae—Asian Hard-shelled Turtles
Mauremys reevesii (Gray, 1831) "Y"
Common names. (E) Chinese pond turtle. (G)
Chinesische Dreikielschildkröte. (T) Lenuk kakorok
riskadu (lenuk = turtle, riskadu = striped, kakorok =
Known distribution. During Phase I we vouchered a
specimen of Mauremys reevesii from Baucau (Baucau
District; Kaiser et al., 2010) and reported the presence of
a population in Dili (Dili District; Kaiser et al., 2011).
New localities. During Phase IV we were able to confirm
the presence of a population of Mauremys reevesii in a
kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica) patch in Becora, eastern
Dili (Dili District; Locality 1; USNM 579393; see
Kaiser et al., 2013c). We also encountered a number of
specimens kept as garden pets in Comoro, western Dili
Natural history. Mauremys reevesii is an introduced
turtle that probably arrived as a deliberate introduction
from the Asian mainland, for food or to be used in
traditional Chinese medicine, or as a totem associated
with Chinese culture and long life. It appears to have been
present in the Dili area for several decades (Kaiser et al.,
2010). As shown by the presence of a male individual
in black breeding colors (Figure 47), the population is
reproductively active and perhaps even self-sustaining in
their human-maintained habitat.
Conservation. Even though the population found in
Timor-Leste was introduced, it may be of significance in
terms of the long-term conservation management of the
species. In its native habitat in temperate and subtropical
regions of mainland East Asia (China, North Korea, South
Korea) M. reevesii has been severely exploited and has
become very rare in the wild, having earned the IUCN
status of Endangered A2bcd+4bcd (van Dijk, 2013).
While populations also occur in Taiwan and Hong Kong
of China, and Japan, these appear to have been exposed
to hybridization with escapees from the trade (Taiwan,
China; Fong and Chen 2010) or with M. japonica
(Temminck and Schlegel, 1835), a close relative (Japan;
Suzuki et al. 2011). Thus, the population in Timor-
Leste, which by our findings appears to be a robust, self-
sustaining population, may represent an important genetic
reservoir of pure M. reevesii.
Family Chelidae—South American and Australasian
Chelodina mccordi Rhodin, 1994 "!
Common names. (E) Timor Snake-necked Turtle. (G)
McCord-Schlangenhalsschildkróte. (T) Lenuk kakorok
ular (lenuk = turtle, kakorok = neck, ular = snake).
Known distribution. Snake-necked turtles on Timor
are limited in distribution to Lake Ira Lalaro in Lautém
District and the surrounding swampy grasslands (Table 5).
New localities. Although we have not personally
encountered or even pursued C. mccordi after our initial
survey in 2009, we received several reports regarding
their presence. These primarily came from local residents
of Malahara village, at Lake Ira Lalaro’s southern shore,
from forest guards working in the vicinity of the lake, and
from expatriates working in Timor-Leste. They lead us to
conclude that C. mccordi exists in all near-shore habitats
around the lake (Kuchling et al., 2007).
Natural history. Chelodina mccordi (Figure 48) is
regarded as one of the world’s 25 most endangered turtle
species (Rhodin et al., 2011). Amongst the reasons for
this designation are its highly localized populations
Mark O'SHEA et al.
Figure 46 Carapace of a juvenile Eretmochelys imbricata from
Jaco Island (Locality 30). The dollar bill (length = 156 mm) is
provided as a scale. Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Figure 47 Adult male Mauremys reevesii from the kangkong
paddies at Balide, a part of the city of Dili (USNM 579393, Locality
1; see Kaiser et al., 2013c). Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Figure 48 Unvouchered adult individual of Chelodina mccordi
from Lake Ira Lalaro, Lautém District (see Kaiser et al., 2011).
Photo by Mark O'Shea.
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 123
(one in a single lake in Timor-Leste, one in two lakes on
Roti Island), the uncertain population dynamics (e.g.,
population size, recruitment, density), and the high
potential for extirpation due to local dietary and cultural
customs or incipient exposure to international trade.
Very little is known about the ecological parameters of
C. mccordi in Timor-Leste, although a study has just
commenced (C. Eisemberg, pers. comm.). Individuals
of C. mccordi are most frequently encountered by local
residents during the drier months of the year, when the
waters of Lake Ira Lalaro recede and smaller patches of
densely vegetated freshwater become isolated. Malahara
villagers may have captured up to 30 specimens of C.
mccordi from the environs of Lake Ira Lalaro during
a single day (Kuchling et al., 2007), likely in support
of an annual cultural event. An educational booklet
was recently produced and is now used in schools to
encourage conservation of the species (Eisemberg and
Taxonomic comments. Even though McCord et al.
(2007) described this population as a distinct species,
their taxon was implicitly synonymized later that year
by Kuchling et al. (2007), who considered the Lake Ira
Lalaro population in Timor-Leste to be a subspecies of
C. mccordi and gave it the name C. m. timorlestensis.
The taxon name timorensis takes nomenclatural priority
over timorlestensis, and thus this population should be
referred to as C. m. timorensis (McCord et al., 2007) if a
subspecific name were to be used. Two other subspecies
of C. mccordi are recognized, the nominate form from
western Roti Island and C. m. roteensis McCord et al.,
2007 from eastern Roti Island (van Dijk et al., 2014)
The mosaic geological structure of Timor Island and
the exploitation of organic natural resources during
colonial times and throughout the Indonesian occupation
(i.e., cutting of sandalwood and tropical hard woods,
development of coffee monoculture, rice farming
and other large-scale agricultural practices, human
settlement) inescapably lead to certain assumptions
about the distribution of the local herpetofauna. Habitat
disturbances and destruction are known to effect
significant changes in species distributions (e.g., Gardner
et al., 2007; McKinney, 2002; Wolf et al., 2013), and this
is perhaps most pronounced in tropical environments. We
are therefore pleased that the reports of our herpetofaunal
surveys to date (Kaiser et al., 2011, 2013b; O’Shea et al.,
Asian Herpetological Research
2012; Sanchez et al., 2012; this paper) appear to
document much higher herpetofaunal diversity than we
had expected, which includes a series of putatively single-
island endemics (e.g., Cyrtodactylus, Eremiascincus,
When considering species distributions, two of the
most common ways to showcase diversity are to use
political boundaries or habitat types. In Timor-Leste, the
most convenient method is to use established political
boundaries (Districts), especially since habitats are
fragmented, disturbed, or otherwise not cohesive. It
would be difficult to predict detailed countrywide species
distributions for Timor-Leste based on the coverage
of specific habitats due to the high degree of habitat
degradation, the presence of habitat fragments of diverse
types, sizes, and ecological qualities, and the existence of
uncertain corridors between such habitats. Furthermore,
it 1s clear that our sampling effort plays a significant role
in how we can account for species distributions: while
we have been able to sample in all 13 districts of Timor-
Leste, some districts received a disproportionate amount
of attention when sampling, entirely for logistical reasons.
Whereas the political boundary method admittedly falls
short of the most productive approach to make statements
about species biology, it allows us to provide a geographic
overview even while comprehensive studies of habitats
are still very limited. The best available information
regarding habitat distributions is still that provided by
Trainor et al. (2007).
As expected, there does not appear to be any general
signal in the species diversity when looking at political
boundaries, with the exception of Lautém District (Table
6), which comprises the entire eastern end of Timor
Island and includes Lake Ira Lalaro, the country's largest
body of freshwater. Even though we visited Lautém only
three times during Phases IV-VIII, we found 31 species,
among them 16 lizard and nine snake species. In contrast,
all of our surveys begin and end in Dili District, and
our species count there 1s 21 species, with seven lizards
and ten snakes. Aileu and Ainaro are the only districts
with a species count below ten, and this is due to a lack
of sampling effort. With a number of diverse mountain
habitats, it 1s all but certain that the diversity in these
districts should match that reported for other mountainous
districts (e.g., Manufahi; Table 6).
One other way to provide a general approach to species
distribution patterns in Timor-Leste is to consider the
north-south distribution, which largely reflects a dry-moist
divide, respectively. The high mountains that form the
spine of Timor act as a barrier to clouds from the south,
effectively placing most of the habitats along the northern
shore of Timor-Leste into a rain shadow. Portions of
northern coastal Manatuto and Baucau Districts rank
amongst the driest parts of Southeast Asia (Monk et al.,
1997). While some may consider lush tropical habitats
to be those with the greater species diversity, perhaps
due to the greater stratification of vegetation and the
concomitant availability of niches, our data to date do
not agree: species richness in the north is 34, in the south
it is 35 species. As discussed above, we believe this to
be a function of sampling effort, given that the south
coast of Timor-Leste has limited infrastructure to support
scientific surveys, rivers in places are unfordable even
for 4 x 4 vehicles, and some areas are effectively isolated
from study. This situation may improve as bridges are
built or rebuilt, and other aspects of the infrastructure are
improved. With increased access to the more remote areas
we expect the list of Timorese reptiles and amphibians
Table 6 Known species diversity of amphibians and reptiles in the districts of Timor-Leste.
Taxon 5 * g
E: o ‘Ss [^
8 3 à B g g s BP 3 3 E
z E Bi E S = = g * | E E B 3
= A E 8 Š = = E E RE Es S 3 S
< < e m  A A a] d d z z Ó >
Frogs 2 1 4 3 3 - 2 3 4 4 3 3
Lizards - 3 11 5 5 10 d 16 7 12 10 9
Snakes 1 8 3 3 10 4 - 9 1 4 9 2 6
Turtles - - 1 - - 1 - - 3 - - - - -
Crocodilians - - - - - - - - 1 - 1 - - 1
TOTAL 3 4 24 11 11 21 14 11 31 11 21 23 14 16
No.2 Mark O'SHEA et al.
to continue to grow. The same can be expected for some
of the more inaccessible mountainous areas. We also
expect that the Department of National Parks of Timor-
Leste will begin to conduct surveys for amphibians and
reptiles independently of our own effort in the coming
years, particularly in the Protected Areas and Nino Konis
Santana National Park, and that this work will result in a
more equitable sampling effort throughout the 13 districts
of the country, as well as across the north-south divide.
Our surveys uncovered a significant amount of single-
island endemism. Before we began our surveys, the
number of single-island endemics stood at eight
(Limnonectes timorensis, Litoria everetti, Draco
timoriensis, Carlia peronii, C. spinauris, Eremiascincus
antoniorum, E. timorensis, Chelodina mccordi timorensis).
For frogs, we have ascertained that at least two species of
Fejervarya coexist in Timor-Leste, neither one of which
is conspecific with F verruculosa (Roux, 1911), their
geographically closest congener found on neighboring
Wetar Island. Furthermore, the population of Kaloula
from the southern coast of Manatuto and Manufahi is
a species distinct from K. baleata sensu stricto as well
as from the recently described K. indochinensis and K.
latidisca. This more than doubles the number of endemic
frog species, with all of the new discoveries linked by a
Southeast Asian biogeographic ancestry. Endemism is
even more pronounced in lizards, and in their case the
ancestry is a mixture of cis- and trans-Wallacean elements.
Whereas Cyrtodactylus (as many as six putative new
species), Hemiphyllodactylus and Draco are certainly taxa
of Southeast Asian origin, Carlia (up to five putatively
new species) and Sphenomorphus (up to four putatively
new species) are Indo-Papuan, and Eremiascincus (up
to four new species) is Australian. The snake fauna also
includes endemics, and some are still being recognized.
In addition to the known endemics, Sundatyphlops
polygrammicus and Dendrelaphis inornatus timorensis
(the latter of which may deserve recognition at the species
level; Gernot Vogel, pers. comm.), we have discovered
at least one new species from the Australo-Papuan realm
(genus Stegonotus), and perhaps two new species of
Indotyphlops. Given our relatively patchy sampling effort
in both geographic and temporal terms, we are certain that
our estimate of endemism for Timor, the largest Lesser
Sunda Island, is still conservative. Our findings therefore
contradict those of Malcolm Smith, who stated, “from
a herpetological point of view, Timor is one of the most
disappointing places that one can visit? (Smith 1927:199).
Timor-Leste Herpetofauna Updates 125
Timor-Leste's Herpetofaunal Diversity in the
Only four historical publications exist that are entirely
devoted to the herpetofaunal diversity of the land area
now called Timor-Leste (Bethencourt Ferreira, 1898;
Managas, 1956, 1972; Themido, 1941), and each of these
is very limited in scope. Several other publications focus
on the western part of Timor Island (e.g., Smith, 1927;
van Lidth de Jeude, 1895) or on the entire island as part of
more general surveys (e.g., Barbour, 1912; de Rooij, 1915,
1917; van Kampen, 1923). Where erroneous records were
presented, either because of misidentification or due to
errors perpetuated via faulty taxonomy, we corrected these
in our earlier papers (Kaiser et al., 2011; O’Shea et al.,
The newly identified high degree of endemism provides
both a challenge and an opportunity for species
management and conservation. The challenge lies with
the landmass itself and the economic development of a
population whose free market economic drive has been
regulated for centuries by external forces. The landscapes
in Timor-Leste are made of extremes, both in terms
of terrain (much of the habitat 1s steeply sloped) and
climate (dry spells may be long and devastating, rains
may be torrential and destructive). As a consequence,
any reporting on species diversity and distribution will
retain a certain geographic and temporal patchiness.
While the Government of Timor-Leste has set aside a
significant portion of Lautém District as Nino Konis
Santana National Park and has formally protected nearly
30 key areas (as Areas Protegidas), the establishment and
implementation of management plans for these locales is
only being realized very slowly due to issues with both
capacity-building and governmental priorities. It is easy to
enforce environmental policies in the absence of poverty,
but it is nearly impossible or desirable when a family's
next meal must come from the land of a protected
area. As a consequence, the quickly developing market
economy of Timor-Leste cannot and should not be curbed
by copying environmental legislation from elsewhere; we
feel that education about diversity and conservation, as
well as the scientific use of the protected areas, is the best
initial step to promoting broad-scale conservation in the
country. It is fortunate that, based on our own experience
with government leaders, the country is beginning to take
The opportunity for species management and
conservation arises through the potential scientific utility
of the national park and the protected areas. Currently,
126 Asian Herpetological Research
these areas are staffed by a cadre of forest guards (Guarda
Florestal), and several individuals may be assigned to
serving a single protected area. The national park also
has a special office in Lospalos, Lautém District, which
houses the administrative base for the area. At this point,
forest guards are under-utilized in their activities and
represent hidden scientific potential. Once educated and
equipped, these individuals could readily be assigned
repeatable tasks, including: (1) twice daily recording of
basic environmental data (e.g., temperature, precipitation,
humidity, cloud cover, etc.); (2) conducting digital
camera-assisted visual encounter transects (Heyer et
al., 1994) in their area; and (3) filing monthly reports
of photo-vouchered species encounters. In a few years,
Timor-Leste, with its existing protected area network and
personnel infrastructure, could perhaps become one of the
best-researched tropical countries in Southeast Asia.
Acknowledgements Our foremost thanks are for the
unwavering, personal support we have received from
Their Excellencies Xanana Gusmao, current Prime
Minister and former President of Timor-Leste, and
José Ramos-Horta, former President and former Prime
Minister of Timor-Leste. Their interest in the survey
work, in the educational opportunities this brings to
Timorese citizens, and the welfare of wildlife in the
country is deeply rooted in their understanding of nation-
building and very gratifying for a team of scientists. This
gratitude extends further, especially to Claudia Abate-
Debat, former Senior Advisor in the Prime Minister’s
Office, for her tireless efforts to allow us to meet the right
people and for helping us comport ourselves with aplomb
during important meetings, and to Manuel Mendes,
Director of National Parks, for issuing the necessary
permits and for his dedication to the conservation of
Timor-Leste. Special thanks go to Damien Kingsbury, for
his assistance with any matters requiring an historical or
political perspective. We received able assistance in the
field during Phases IV-VIII from Zach Brown, Kevin
Burns, Melissa Carillo, Marissa Cox, Britta Dóring,
Joanna Flores, Scott Heacox, Stephanie Hughes, Naveen
Jalota, Paul Landry, Aaren Marsh, Gloria Morales, Kyle
Olsen, Jay Paris, Julia Pozo, Justin Rader, Claudia Rivas,
Robert Sewell, David Taylor, and Franziska Wagner.
Without them, many specimen records would have been
missed. For their assistance with the logistics of travel
we thank Paulo Aniceto (Rentló Car Rental), Faridah
Suhaimi (Air Timor), Gareth Turner (Air Timor), Ed
Turner (Air Timor), Ian Groucott (Emirates), as well
as the staff at Timor Lodge Hotel, particularly Kemal,
Michelle, and Sheemon. A survey such as this requires
an inordinate amount of specimen work covering many
taxa in order to provide the most reliable identifications
possible. We therefore gratefully acknowledge the
assistance of the many individuals who were instrumental
in facilitating loans, or permitting one or several of us
to examine specimens under their care (for institutional
abbreviations see Sabaj Pérez, 2014): Jeremy Jacobs,
Steve Gotte, Robert Wilson, Kenneth Tighe, George Zug,
and Roy McDiarmid (USNM); Annemarie Ohler and
Ivan Ineich (MNHN); Gunther Kóhler and Linda Acker
(SMF); Wolfgang Bóhme and André Koch (ZFMK); Pim
Arntzen, Ronald de Ruiter, and Esther Dondorp (RMNH);
Patrick Campbell and Colin McCarthy (BMNH); José
Rosado, Joe Martinez, and James Hanken (MCZ); David
Kizirian and David Dickey (AMNH); Karla Schneider
(MLU); Rolf Beutel and Matthias Krüger (Phyletisches
Museum, Jena, Germany); Fritz Geller-Grimm (MWNH);
Raffael Winkler, Denis Vallan, and Urs Wüest (NHMB);
Heinz Grillitsch, Silke Schweiger, and Georg GaBner
(NMW); Frank Tillack and Mark-Oliver Ródel (ZMB);
Paul Doughty (WAM); Kelvin Lim (ZRC); Stefan
Hertwig (NMBE); Raffael Ernst and Markus Auer
(MTKD); Andréas Schmitz (MHNG); and Alexander
Haas and Jakob Hallermann (ZMH). Financial assistance
for equipment and supplies was partially provided by a
Title V Grant to Victor Valley College. Partial financing
of student travel was provided by the Associated Student
Body at Victor Valley College, and by donations from
Pamela MacKay and Melinda Fisher. This paper is
Contribution No. 15 from the Tropical Research Initiative
at Victor Valley College.
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