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Cerberus microlepis BOULENGER, 1896

IUCN Red List - Cerberus microlepis - Endangered, EN

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Higher TaxaHomalopsidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Lake Buhi Bockadam, Dog-faced Water Snake 
SynonymCerberus cinereus GRAY 1849:64 (in part)
Cerberus microlepis BOULENGER 1896: 18
Hurria microlepis — TAYLOR 1922: 114
Cerberus microlepis — DARNS et al. 2000
Cerberus microlepis — MURPHY et al. 2012
Cerberus microlepis — MURPHY & VORIS 2014: 12
Cerberus microlepis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 155 
DistributionPhilippines (Luzon: restricted to Lake Buhi)

Type locality: "Philippines." [Lake Buhi, ~13°26’N 123°31’E]  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.1.7.24–25 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Cerberus microlepis can be distinguished from all other members of the genus by its 27 to 31 scale rows at midbody, all other species have 21 to 25 scale rows at mid-body; the imbricate plate-like scales on the crown have a slightly thickened appearance; last upper labial is horizontally divided; and the venter is mottled. Cerberus australis has 23 scale rows at mid-body; lacks keels anterior to the angle of the jaw and the first labial does not contact the loreal (it does in microlepsis). Cerberus dunsoni has 23 scale rows at mid body, rounded juxtaposed scales on the crown, and a uniform black venter. Cerberus rynchops has 25 scale rows at mid body (rarely 23); keeled scales on the crown of the head anterior to the angle of the jaw, and the last two upper labials are horizontally divided. Cerberus schneiderii usually has 23 scale rows at mid-body (rarely 21 or 25), the last upper labial is horizontally divided [MURPHY et al. 2012]. 
CommentHabitat: This is a freshwater species. ALFARO et al. (2004) suggest that C. microlepis may prove to be an isolated freshwater ecotype of C. rynchops rather than a separate species. Lake Buhi, the type locality and only known locality of the species was formed in 1641 by an earthquake that collapsed the side of Mt Iriga and formed a dam (Alfaro et al. 2004). 
EtymologyNamed after the small (Greek ”micros”) scales (Greek “lepis”), possibly referring to the fragmented frontal scale, usually composed of small scales (Murphy 2007: 69). 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Karns,D.R.; O’Bannon,A.; Voris,H.K. & Weigt,L.A. 2000. Biogeographical implications of mitochondrial DNA variation in the Bockadam snake (Cerberus rynchops, Serpentes, Homalopsinae) in Southeast Asia. J. Biogeography 27: 391-402 - get paper here
  • Murphy, J.C. & Voris, H.K. 2014. A Checklist and Key to the Homalopsid Snakes (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes), with the Description of New Genera. FIELDIANA: LIFE AND EARTH SCIENCES (8): 1–43 - get paper here
  • Murphy, John C. 2007. Homalopsid Snakes: Evolution in the Mud. Krieger Publishing, Malabar, Florida, 249 pp.
  • MURPHY, JOHN C.; HAROLD K. VORIS & DARYL R. KARNS, 2012. The dog-faced water snakes, a revision of the genus Cerberus Cuvier, (Squamata, Serpentes, Homalopsidae), with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 3484: 1–34 - get paper here
  • Taylor, E.H. 1922. The snakes of the Philippine Islands. Manila (Bureau of Printing or Science), Monograph 16: 312 pp. - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Weinell, Jeffrey L.; Errol Hooper, Alan E. Leviton, Rafe M. Brown 2019. Illustrated Key to the Snakes of the Philippines. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (4) 66 (1): 1-49 - get paper here
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