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Chanard’s Mud Snake

23 Apr

Enhydris chanardi

Chanard's Water Snake Enhydris chanardi

Chanard’s Mud Snake found in Nakhon Nayok Province (photo courtesy of Exotarium Oberhof)

Chanard's Mud Snake Enhydris chanardi scales

A comparison of the color patterns of Chanard’s Mud Snake and Jagor’s Water Snake (photo courtesy of John C. Murphy)

Sind River Snake Enhydris chanardi scales

Head scales of preserved Chanard's Mud Snake (photo courtesy of John C. Murphy)

English name: Chanard’s Mud Snake
Scientific name: Enhydris chanardi
Thai name:

Description: To 55cm long. A very short, thick water snake. Head is broad and mottled with yellow and grayish-brown coloration. Body is grayish-brown above. There is a yellow stripe on each side with a row of small dark dots running just above it. Underbelly is pale with a grayish zig-zag line on the edges.

Similar Species: Jagor’s Water Snake lacks the yellow stripe and has large dark blotches rather than small dark dots.
Yellow-bellied Water Snake is uniformly dark above with no spots or lines.
Puff-faced Water Snake is longer, has a light barred pattern and dark mask on face.
Rainbow Water Snake has a smaller head and light stripes rather than dark spots.
Bocourt’s Water Snake is larger with dark brown-and-black areas broken up by narrow light bands.

Habitat: This snake is found in freshwater environments in the Chao Phraya drainage, including artificial water bodies. Like other members of its family, it likely spends nearly all of its time in the water.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Living populations have not yet been found, but it likely feeds on fish and frogs. Provides food for larger snakes, large fish, monitors, and wading birds.

Danger to humans: Is a rear-fanged snake like other members of its family, but is not dangerous to humans.

Conservation status and threats: This species was recently described from 15 museum specimens, all of which came from Metropolitan Bangkok or the surrounding area. The most recent of these records was about 20 years old. There are concerns that development in Bangkok may have destroyed much of its habitat and it may be extinct in Bangkok. However, a number of live specimens have recently been found in nearby provinces that have seen less development.

Interesting facts: New species are not always found out in the wild. This species was discovered in 2005 by two biologists who examined Jagor’s Water Snake specimens from many museums and discovered that a number of the records were actually mislabeled and represented a previously unknown species. The species was described from these museum specimens, the most recent of which was nearly twenty years old and some of which had been collected a hundred years earlier.

References:
A New Thai Enhydris
IUCN Redlist: Enhydris chanardi
Michael Cota, personal communication
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia

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