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

Metinaro mangrove swamp, Dili District

Map of Metinaro showing mangrove swamps.

Mouse-over for Google satellite map and click for enlarged topographic map.

Metinaro mangrove swamp is a favourite location of mine and one we have visited previously, during Phase VI.

Approximately 40 minutes east along the North Coast Road, this extensive mangrove swamp is where Laca found a Little filesnake (Acrochordus granulatus) and where we found our first Timorese Crab-eating mangrove snake (Fordonia leucobalia).

We returned to Metinaro as the sun began to drop and the tide began to turn, this is the best time to find homalopsid snakes in a mangrove swamp.

Metinaro swamp in the last of the afternoon's light

We set out to walk into the mangrove swamp in search of snakes. For many the deep glutinous mud made hard going, especially with the tangled mangrove roots and air-roots (pneumatophores) tripping the unwary. The going got more difficult as the darkness increased and visibility decreased. The mangrove swamp is a fascinating habitat, albeit a tough and dirty one to penetrate.

Mangrove, Rhizophora spp., and the mounds
of the Mud lobster,
Thalassina anomala, are the
building blocks of the mangrove forest
Mangrove seeds drop like spears and embed in the mud to germinate

But we were successful, after trudging through a large swathe of mangrove swamps we had captured four Indo-Malay dog-faced watersnakes (Cerberus schneiderii) and a single Crab-eating mangrove snake (Fordonia leucobalia), and missed another dog-faced watersnake in the mud.

Mark with the first
Dog-faced watersnake, Cerberus schneiderii
Hinrich in a fetching pair of riding boots,
of black mangrove mud


Indo-Malay dog-faced watersnake,
Crab-eating mangrove snake,
Fordonia leucobalia