Victor Valley College Tropical Research Initiative
Herpetofauna of Timor-Leste
Phase VII

Dili, Dili District

Sometimes interesting creatures turn up at the most unexpected times. A red-headed scolopendrid centipede was found walking across the floor in one of the chalets.


Red-headed centipede

The final specimen tagging was done and specimens were listed for permits.

Below is a series of Bent-toed geckos (Cyrtodactylus sp.) from four different locations around Timor-Leste, collected during Phase VII. We are astonished at the diversity within this large genus (ther largest gekkonid genus in the world) from Timor, when previously it was not even known to occur there. We are expecting to describe a number of new species in the very near future when the molecular analysis is completed.

Bent-toed geckos
Cyrtodactylus sp.
dorsal & ventral views
from (l-r) Venilale, Baucau; Nancuro, Manatuto; Maganuto, Bobonaro; Fiuren, Bobonaro


Milking the pitviper

I also milked the Lesser Sunda pitviper (Trimesurus insularis) for venom research purposes. The dried venom will got to colleagues engaged in the Global Snakebite Initiative and the Australian Venom Research Unit. I milk all live pitvipers captured in Timor-Leste.

My third and final scrape of the trip (after my loosing my passport in KL and almost trashing the Troopie outside Malaiana) was the snag I got from a tooth in the lower jaw of the pitviper while I was milking it. As I removed the viper from the venom receptacle a tooth just snagged the thumb of my right hand and penetrated deeply enough to draw blood. Initially I was concerned about the potential presence of venom on the mouth, which could enter the wound (there is no antivenom in Timor) but after observing it for an hour I was content that no damage had been done.

The pitviper was found to be infested with roundworms (Nematoda) with possible two species present (below).


A 10cm roundworm (Nematoda) removed from the pitviper
A 4mm roundworm (Nematoda) removed from the pitviper

On the 10th July we completed all preparations to leave Timor-Leste at the end of an action-packed and very successful Phase VII.

We took our bags down to the Nicolau Lobato International Airport and checked them all in for Denpasar Bali on a Merpati flight, then returned to the cool, comfort and refreshments of the TLH to while away an hour until we needed to return to the airport to board. Our new friend, Jet No.5 Paulo, dropped by to see us and we had a final photograph of the Phase VII team taken.

Nicolau Lobato International Airport,
Dili, Timor-Leste

The UN are still here
but not for long
A final photograph of the Phase VII team:
(l-r) Mark, Caitlin, Sven, Hinrich, Andrew, Paulo

We said good bye to Paulo at the airport and boarded our delayed flight to Denpasar, Bali. When we arrived Hinrich and Sven left us at the had onward flights to Germany and USA. Caitlin, Andrew and I went back to the Best Western Kuta to overnight. Andrew was remaining in Bali for a few days but on the 11th Caitlin flew out to Taipai and the US while I caught my Air Asia flight to Kuala Lumpur, also delayed. When I arrived I had a mad rush to the KLIA terminal to catch my Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt and then my connection to Birmingham, arriving back in the UK early on the 12th July.