[TimorLesteStudies] Amphibians and Reptiles of Timor-Leste

Hinrich Kaiser chalcopis at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 9 21:22:13 EST 2011

Our first report on surveys for amphibians and reptiles in Timor-Leste, conducted in 2009, just appeared in the journal Zookeys and can be downloaded at


The Abstract is:

Fieldwork conducted throughout Timor-Leste in September 2004 and July 2009 resulted in a collection or recording of 263 herpetological specimens (100 amphibians, 163 reptiles), comprising at least seven species of frogs and toads, 20 species of lizards, seven species of snakes, two species of turtles, and one species of crocodile. Among the amphibians, the most frequently encountered species were toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus), rice paddy frogs (genus Fejervarya), and rhacophorid treefrogs (Polypedates cf. leucomystax). All three variants of rice paddy frogs encountered represent undescribed species similar to F. verruculosa from neighboring Wetar Island. Records of F. cancrivora and F. limnocharis for Timor Island are apparently errors based on misidentification. We obtained voucher specimens for a total of 147 lizards and voucher photographs only for four specimens of Varanus timorensis. Aside from geckos frequently associated with human
 habitations (e.g., Gehyra mutilata, Gekko gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus, H. platyurus), we discovered an as yet undescribed species of bent-toed gecko, genus Cyrtodactylus, in the Same valley. Our specimens of H. platyurus are the first record of this species from Timor-Leste. Commonly encountered skinks included four-fingered skinks (genus Carlia), wedge skinks (genus Sphenomorphus), and night skinks (genus Eremiascincus). Notable among the 15 snakes collected was the frequency of pitvipers (Cryptelytrops insularis), which amounted to over 25% of all snakes. Our specimen of the wolfsnakeLycodon subcinctus is the first record of this species for Timor-Leste. Based on these findings, it appears that the biodiversity of amphibians and reptiles in this remote corner of Wallacea is much greater than previously thought, particularly with respect to scincid lizards. The detail we provide in the species accounts is designed to allow the use of this report as a
 preliminary field guide to the amphibians and reptiles ofTimor-Leste. However, survey work is ongoing.

Preliminary information on our subsequent work (Phases II and III in 2010, Phases IV and V in 2011) are accessible at Mark O'Shea's website at
http://www.markoshea.info/research_expeditions_index_2005-2010.php (Phases II–IV) and
http://www.markoshea.info/home_fieldblog_index.php (the blog for the recently completed Phase V).

Our work confirms that the amphibian and reptile fauna of Timor-Leste is considerably more diverse than previously though, and we are in the process of describing up to 20 new species.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Hinrich Kaiser

Hinrich Kaiser PhD FLS
Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Victor Valley College
Research Collaborator, National Museum of Natural History
Member, International Advisory Board, Foundation for Post-Conflict Development
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