Animals in the Philippines
Hundreds of species!
The Philippines is a tropical country with a 'Tropical rainforest climate'. The high temperatures and the continuously high humidity the whole year through, make that there are more than 3500 species of plants and animals!
Influence of the tropical climate
Plants and animals are adjusted to the tropical climate and specific qualities of the tropical environment. Especially the tropical coral waters and the original tropical rainforests are the places, where hundreds of beautiful coloured and sometimes rare animals live.
About the animals...
In the waters of the Philippines there are more than 2000 different kinds of fish. Added to that figure, the country counts about 200 different kinds of reptiles and 25000 different insects. The smallest monkey and the biggest fish in the world, they both live in the Philippines! Spectacular is the colourful underwater-world. Every year many tourists come to the Philippines to one of the islands, where scuba diving brings them to this amazing underwater-world. The Philippines can show you what a typical tropical country can offer in species of animals. Of course, not all animals are rare or specific for the Philippines. That is for sure if you take the carabao, the cocks or the lizards.
The best possibilities to explore tropical rainforest in the Philippines are on the islands Bohol, Mindanao and Palawan. These are the islands where still a big part of the original jungle is conserved. Several organizations organize day-trips into the jungle. However, to meet the animals of your choice is not so easy. Species are often rare and animals are most of the time hiding when they hear strange noise. Moreover, the animal density per acre or even by hectare is not high. Big chance that you will hear and see birds, monkeys and insects. Maybe snakes too! With a good guide you'll be probably lucky, not only to hear the animal sounds, but also to see the animals. Some animals are very rare. The most known of these rare animals in the Philippines are the Philippine Eagle and the Tarsier.
The smallest monkey in the world, the Tarsier, lives in the Philippines. The height is between 90 to 160 mm (3.5 to 6.25 inches), the weight between 70 to 165 grams. The Tarsier is an insect-eating animal, but small lizards are too a wanted meal. With their big eyes they have a very acute night vision which makes them good night hunters. Their big ears can move in the direction of any noise. With their heads they are capable to make a fast switch of 180 degrees, which make their hunting qualities high. It's sad that, because of a relatively fast deforestation of the tropical rainforests on the Philippine islands, the number of tarsiers has showed a dramatic reduction. On the island Bohol a foundation tries to protect the Tarsier species, a difficult task in a country where still economic interests cause illegal logging.
In the coral waters around the islands
The Philippines is situated in Southeast Asia in the Western Pacific. The Western Pacific is known for having some of the warmest waters on the planet. In the warm, shallow waters around the islands, we find the corals and the coral reefs. Corals are micro organisms, so, they are the smallest animals you can imagine. These 'microscopic small' organisms produce (secrete) lime which form miniscule small holes (cavities). These miniscule small holes serve as their living room. The corals use their tentacles to trap passing plankton. Plankton is the food for corals. As generations of corals die, the lime skeletons of the dead micro organisms will build-up the coral reefs. It takes a coral reef 5 years to grow one inch. The forms of the reefs we can see today, are the result of a natural process of millions of years. These limestone forms are the environment (the habitat) for the many different en coloured tropical fish.
Marine bio diversity
The coral reefs in the Western Pacific have the highest marine biodiversity in the world. In the waters of the Philippines there are more than 2000 different kinds of fish. This area is one of the most unique in the Pacific Ocean. The coral reefs are very beautiful, ideal for divers and snorkelling tourists. Moreover, they also protect the shoreline by acting as a wave breaker.
The whale shark
Do you want to meet the biggest fish in the world, a shark which can grow up to 9 meters in length? The Philippines is one of the countries where there is the possibility to arrange such a meeting! Meeting whale sharks in the underwater-world became an attraction for many divers In the nearby seas of the south-eastern part of Luzon.
Not dangerous for human beings
Whale sharks live in tropical, warm waters all around the world. For eating, they swim quite near the water surface.
Whale sharks are not dangerous for human beings, on the contrary. Though their mouth is about 1,5 meter wide, the opening to the stomach is very small. So, they are not able to swallow a human body. Whale sharks only live on plankton and krill.
Length and weight
When they have a length of 4,5 meters, the weight is about 750 kg. The maximum length of a grownup whale shark is 13-14 meters. The whale shark then has a weight of approximately 1500 kilograms.
Mga Toko in the houses
Mga Toko, as the people in de Visayas call the small lizards, are living in houses and other buildings. The Toko can be seen as very useful, because they feed their selves with catching mosquitoes in the houses and other buildings.Though many Filipinos don't like these little creatures, like many people don't like spiders, these 'mga toko' are in fact innocent. The mga toko stick with their feet to ceilings and walls. They never come down and even disappear quickly if a human being is coming near.
The "Water Monitor" is the largest lizard found in the Philippines, growing up to 2 1/2 meters. It is locally known as "bayawak". The Water Monitor eats a variety of small animals, insects, fish, mollusks and carrion.
Different species of lizards
In tropical countries like the Philippines, live different species of Lizards. One of the two important species is the "Mindanao Water Monitor", the "Varanus salvator cumingi". Because of its striking skin, this varanus has been hunted for decennia. The skin is obtained for leather manufacturers in Asia and Europe. The Water Monitor prefers living near fresh or salty water, which explains the name. The Water Monitors are very good swimmers.
The Philippine eagle
the National Bird
Though already more than 85 to 90 percent of the original tropical forest disappeared because of legal and especially illegal logging, the Philippines still have a natural environment which is the home for a very wide range of different birds. Many are to be found in most other humid tropical countries, some species are only to be found in this country. Of the (about) 400 species of birds in the Philippines, several are now very rare and a good number are greatly endangered. One of these birds is the Philippine eagle.
The Philippine Eagle inhabits the mountain area around Mount Apo on Mindanao. A long time ago, the Philippine Eagle inhabited the mountain forests or clearings of lowland forest on Luzon, Leyte, Mindanao and Samar. Now, the mount Apo region on Mindanao is the last remaining environment in the Philippines where the eagles live. Most of the time the eagles hide in the forest. Because of the deforestation (the logging), the area to hide became rather small.
The food of the eagles consists mostly of large snakes, hornbills, wild cats, monkeys and flying lemurs. The Philippine Eagle is also known as 'the monkey eating eagle'.
Description appearance: 75 - 100 cm tall; Wing span of two meters; Territory of an eagle: 60 - 100 sq kiilometre; Crown and crest yellowish with brown shaft streaks; Upper parts rich brown with pale pale edges to feathers; Tail dark brown with blackish bars and a white tip; Feet are yellow.
The eagles build their nests high in one of the giant trees on natural platforms, about 30 meters off the ground. Adults raise only one young a year. They bring the young a variety of food, including monkeys snatched from treetops.