Cold-blooded wildlife of Borneo
Borneo’s freshwater reptilesTerrapins are reptiles generally associated with both terrestrial and freshwater habitats. One example is the endangered spiny terrapin (Heosemys spinosa), which mostly lives on the forest floor, although it infrequently visits streams and puddles. It feeds on fallen fruits and other vegetation.
Compared to the spiny terrapin, the forest soft-shelled turtle’s (Dogania subplana) lifestyle is more closely connected to streams in forests and agricultural areas, where it goes searching for food at night. The species is recognizable by the spotted pattern of the head, a long, thick and flexible neck and sharp claws on the forefeet.
In the peat swamps one can meet the false gharial (Tomistoma schlegelii), a medium-sized crocodile. Its elongated snout is specialised for catching fish, but the species is actually a generalist predator, reportedly feeding on fish, insects, crustaceans and mammals.1
Borneo lizardsSome 105 species of lizards are known from Borneo’s tropical rainforests,2 including the green crested lizard or Borneo bloodsucker (Bronchocela cristatella). With more than ¾ of its length consisting of a tail, this lizard also has the distinction of changing colour from bright green to brown when threatened.
Another colourful Borneo lizard is the 5-banded gliding lizard (Draco quinquefasciatus), found in lowland primary rainforest close to water bodies. This lizard’s body is marked by five dark bands with a series of white spots at the centre of each one.
- Hydrophis sibauensis, a highly venomous water snake, described from Sibau River (West Kalimantan).
- Three new species of the Sphenomorphus genus, the most diverse lizard group in Borneo. All species known so far occur in lowland forests and are terrestrial, but the new species were found at elevations of more than 1,000 m above sea level, along the mountainous western spine of Sabah.
More than 3 species discovered every month during the past 15 years
Discovered in 20073 in lowland to upland rainforest, this uncommon new species differs from all other Dendrelaphis species by a bright orange, almost flame-like, neck colouration that gradually fuses into an extraordinary iridescent and vivid blue, green and brown pattern, that extends the entire length of the snake.
The top of the head is deep bronze, a characteristic of all bronzeback snakes, and a dark stripe extends from the snout, across the eye, to the start of the neck.