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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Southern Philippine Cobra

Species : Naja samarensis
Maximum Size : 140 cm

The Southern Philippine Cobra, also known as Peters' Cobra or Samar Cobra, inhabits the islands of Basilan, Bohol, Camiguin Sur, Dinagat, Leyte, Mindanao and Samar (Sy & Mangkabong, 2018). The species was also recently documented from Siquijor Island (Sy & Bucol, 2020).

Like the widespread Equatorial Spitting Cobra, this Philippine endemic can accurately spit venom into the eyes of an aggressor as a means of defence.

Its body scales are black, and the interstitial skin (i.e. the skin between the scales, which becomes more visible when the snake inflates its body) is yellow. The sides of its hood are also yellow; this is easily observed when the hood is expanded. The amount of yellow may vary between individuals and between populations.

Taylor (1922) described the body patterning as
'indistinct yellowish netting, more prominent on posterior part of body'. The top and sides of the head are pale to medium brown.

This snake occurs in a wide range of habitats, from lowlands to highlands (up to ~800 metres), and may be locally common in agricultural areas or near human habitation where easily captured, small vertebrate prey might be present, for example in areas of rice paddy and coconut plantations (Sy et al, 2009).

Ravalo et al (2019) documented one of these snakes feeding on the invasive cane toad Rhinella marina; the snake had been killed by a security guard and, after dissection, a partly digested cane toad was found in the snake's stomach. It was concluded that the snake could tolerate the powerful toxins of this non-native toad.

Fig 1 : Example from an agricultural area near Dipolog City, Mindanao, southern Philippines.

Photo thanks to Rudolf S.

References :

Emerson Y. Sy & Shameer G. Mangkabong. (2018) First record of Southern Philippine Cobra Naja samarensis on Basilan Island, Philippines. Southeast Asia Vertebrate Records. 2018: 078-079. [pdf]

Emerson Y. Sy & Abner A. Bucol. (2020) First record of the Southern Philippine Cobra Naja samarensis on Siquijor Island, Philippines. Southeast Asia Vertebrate Records. 2020: 036-037. [pdf]

Ravalo, D. D., Gersava, J. R., Alojado, J., Achondo, M. J. M., & Gamalo, L. E. (2019). Predation of Samar Cobra Naja samarensis Peters, 1861 on the invasive Cane Toad Rhinella marina (Linnaeus, 1758) in Davao City, Philippines. Herpetology Notes, 12, 1023-1025.

Sy, E., Custodio, C., Gonzalez, J.C. & Delima, E.M. 2009. Naja samarensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T169763A6670726

Taylor, E. H. (1922).  The Snakes of the Philippine Islands. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Bureau of Science, Manila. 312 pp.+ 37 plates.

Fig 1
ゥ  Rudolf S.