Thursday, October 11, 2012

Reptiles of Timor Leste

The Republic of Timor-Leste issued a series of stamps featuring the reptiles of Timor Leste in commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence and the International Year of Biodiversity, and in conjunction with a biodiversity survey conduced by the Timor Lorosa’e National University.

The species featured on six postage stamps are the  Timor river frog, the Snake-necked turtle, the Island pit-viper, the Timor monitor, the Bronze-back serpent, and the Saltwater crocodile.

The 50c stamp  represents a frog species, Timor river frog. The Timor river frog (Limnonectes timorensis) has extremely smooth skin, with the few warts present confined to the flanks of the body beneath a pair of distinctive ridges that separate the dorsum from the flanks.

The Timor river frog is  a large, alert, big-eyed frog, member of the genus Limnonectes and has powerful hind-limbs  for leap a considerable distance to escape a predator. The long toes of the hind-feet are partially webbed for swimming.

The 50c stamp  represents endemic snake, the Timor snake-necked turtle. This species is  endemic to Timor-Leste, and it is apparently found in the Lake Ira Lalaro, Lautem District. It is believed to be most closely related to the Roti Island snake-necked turtle (Chelodina mccordi), of the southwestern tip of West Timor (Indonesia).

Snake-necked turtles are an Australo-Papuan group of carnivorous freshwater turtles, that possess extremely long necks, longer than their own bodies. Prey consists of fish, crustaceans and mollusks. The presence of this turtle very few . Therefore it should be take action the strict conservation measures to prevent its exploitation or extinction.

The 75c stamp represents the Island pitviper. This species  is the only front-fanged venomous land snake currently known to occur in Timor-Leste and  widely distributed in the lowlands in both the north and south of the country, and relatively commonly encountered.

The Island pitviper have appearance a muscular physique, prehensile tail, and green coloration may suggest an arboreal existence .This pitviper may easily be found on the ground, hunting amphibians or small mammals.Its can achieve the lengths of up to 1.0 m.

Although snakebites seem to be fairly infrequent in Timor-Leste, this species has caused occasional fatalities elsewhere in its Lesser Sunda Island range. Therefore  it should be treated with respect and close encounters avoided.

The 75c stamp represents the Timor monitor.This species is an elongate-bodied lizard with powerful, clawed limbs, and a long prehensile tail. The Timor monitor achieves a maximum length of less than 0.7 m including its tail, which is almost twice the length of the body. Patterning is typical of tree monitors, with dark-edged, light-centered rosettes on a light brown background.

The Timor monitor is extremely arboreal and closely related to tree monitors from Australia and New Guinea although this species is confined to Timor and the neighboring islands of Roti and Sawu. Their diet  consists of smaller lizards and large invertebrates. Timor monitors are most frequently encountered in coastal habitats, near palms and other trees, which provide them with routes for rapid escape.

The $1 stamp represents the Saltwater Crocodile . This species is the largest living reptile in the world which distributed range from India to northern Australia and includes the rivers, coastal lagoons, and coastlines of Timor-Leste.

The saltwater crocodile, also known as estuarine crocodile and Indo-Pacific crocodile, is one of the few living reptiles that considers humans as prey.  It can achieve the lengths on excess of 6.0. m,
Saltwater crocodiles may be encountered in the lower reaches of any of the larger rivers in Timor-Leste but they seem most common in the quieter rivers to the east of Dili or along the south coast.

The $1 stamp represents the Timor bronzeback. This species belongs to a very widely distributed genus containing almost 30 species occurring from India to northern Australia.

The Timor bronzebacks, as the Asian species are known, or tree snakes, as they are called in Australo-Papua, are highly alert, fast-moving, diurnal snakes with large eyes, slender bodies and long tails.

The Timor bronzeback is the eastern subspecies of the Lesser Sunda bronze-back, and it also occurs on neighboring islands from Roti to Wetar. Despite its brave, even fearsome display, this snake is perfectly harmless, it feeds on frogs and small lizards and is nonvenomous.

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