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Little File Snake

20 Apr

Acrochordus granulatus

Jordan de Jong little file snake Acrochordus granulatus

Little File Snake (photo courtesy of Jordan de Jong)

Jordan de Jong little file snake Acrochordus granulatus

Close-up of Little File Snake (photo courtesy of Jordan de Jong)

jason isley marine file snake Acrochordus granulatus

Little File Snake off the coast of Malaysia (photo courtesy of Jason Isley)

jason isley marine file snake Acrochordus granulatus

Head shot of Little File Snake (photo courtesy of Jason Isley)

File Snake (Acrochordus granulatus) Sri Lanka Kanishka Ukuwela Sri Lanka

Little File Snake in Sri Lanka (photo courtesy of Kanishka Ukuwela)

Little Wart Snake Singapore

Little File Snake washed up on shore in Singapore (photo courtesy of Ria Tan)

Granular File Snake Acrochordus granulatus head shot Singapore

Head shot of another Little File Snake (photo courtesy of Ria Tan)

Pat McCarthy Little File Snake (Acrochordus granulatus) Australia mating

Little File Snakes making on shore in Australia (photo courtesy of Pat McCarthy)

Pat McCarthy Little File Snake (Acrochordus granulatus) australia

Close-up of head of Little File Snake (photo courtesy of Pat McCarthy)

Marine File Snake Acrochordus granulatus underbelly showing pattern and scales

Underbelly of Little File Snake, showing offset bands and small rough scales (photo courtesy of Ria Tan)

English name: Little File Snake (aka: “Little Wart Snake”, “Marine File Snake”, “Banded File Snake”)
Scientific name: Acrochordus granulatus
Thai name: Ngu Pa-ki-reu, Ngu Pa ki-reu Lai

Description: To 125cm long. Females are stout, while males are comparatively slender. Skin hangs loosely on the body and is covered with small pyramid-like scales that are rough to the touch, giving it the common name “file snake” or the alternative name “wart snake”. Head is flat and wide with the nostrils and eyes positioned on top. Tail is round and prehensile. Body is olive, blue, brown or black with transverse white to beige bands.

Similar Species: Javan Wart Snake is larger and has indistinct longitudinal dark lines/blotches rather than transverse light bands.
Keel-bellied Water Snake is more slender, lacks the loose skin, and has a clear white belly.
Banded Krait has a triangle-shaped body and lacks the loose skin.
Sea Snakes of the Elapidae family have a paddle-shaped tail.

Habitat: The Little File Snake is found in the ocean, as well as in estuaries, swamps, ponds, and rivers in coastal areas. It is almost entirely aquatic and can be found up to 10 km offshore in waters as deep as 20 meters. During the day it buries itself under cover below the water, coming to the surface occasionally to breathe.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Little File Snake helps to control fish populations. Smaller juveniles provide food for monitors, large fish, and wading birds.

Danger to humans: Has no venom, is usually passive and is not dangerous to humans. However, it can easily be confused with similarly banded sea snakes, which pack a deadly bite, so exercise caution before handling.

Conservation status and threats: Is common and widespread. Some are collected for the pet trade, for food, or for their skins, but this does not appear to be a threat to their populations. Many are killed accidentally by netting operations in shallow ocean water, but at this point the incidental take appears to be sustainable.

Interesting facts: The Little File Snake contains more blood in its body than similarly-size land snakes, with a much higher concentration of red blood cells. This allows it to stay underwater up to 139 minutes at a time, allowing it to wait patiently for the fish that form its diet.

The male snakes of this species are skinnier and longer than the females, and tend to hunt their prey more actively.

References:
IUCN Redlist: Acrochordus granulatus
Siam-Info: Acrochordidae
Wikipedia: Acrochordus granulatus
Wild Singapore: Banded File Snake
Blood oxygen stores in the File Snake, Acrochordus granulatus, and in other marine snakes
Sexual Size Dimorphism and Reproductive Cycle of the Little File Snake Acrochordus granulatus in Phangnga Bay, Thailand
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
A Field Guide to the Snakes of South Vietnam
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry
Graeme Gow’s Complete Guide to Australian Snakes

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