Help Identify this Philippine Snake

Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Rich Glor

Luzon snakeLuzon snake

A friend of KU Herpetology just sent the photos above and noted that the snake in these images "fell off a roof at ocean adventure" in Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippines. Anybody know what species it is? Both photos copyright William Ross from Ocean Adventure, Subic, Luzon.


OK, so I guess no one figured it out. This is Coelognathus erythrurus (formerly Elaphe erythrura). The southern Luzon subspecies "manilensis" mostly likely is a distinct species. It certainly is phenotypically diagnosable, and distinct from the Philippine central (Visayan PAIC) islands subspecies C. e. psephenourus, the eastern and southern (Mindanao PAIC) subspecies C. e. erythrurus, and the population from Sulaweasi, Indonesia, C. e. celebensis. Generalized biogeographical patterns of the Philippines certainly support an arrangement wherein three evolutionary, lineage based species are recognized. Thus, it is most likely time that herpetologists recognize three Philippine rat snakes: Coelognathus manilensis (Luzon faunal region), Coelognathus psephenourus (West Visayan PAIC) and Coelognathus erythrurus (Mindanao PAIC). Of course there are also two species of Zaocys (carinata and luzonensis), a Gonyosoma (oxycephalum), and the Papuan-derived Stegonotus (muelleri) Philippine "rats snakes" are really more like seven species. Not too shabby! —Rafe
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