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Category Archives: Water Snakes

Puff-faced Water Snake

Homalopsis buccata

Puff-faced Water Snake Homalapsis buccata Vietnam Alex Krohn

Puff-faced Water Snake trapped in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Puff-faced Water Snake (Homalopsis buccata) adult

Older adult Puff-faced Water Snake (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Puff-faced Water Snake Homalopsis buccata adult

Puff-faced Water Snake caught in Krabi Province (photo courtesy of Tom Charlton)

Puff-faced Water Snake (Homalopsis buccata) juvenile

Younger Puff-faced Water Snake in Krabi Province (photo courtesy of Tom Charlton)

puff-faced water snake Homalopsis buccata

Puff-faced Water Snake that had been released by tourist into Lumpani Park

banded water snake Homalopsis buccata

Puff-faced Water Snake in Singapore (Image by Nick Baker, http://www.ecologyasia.com)

Puff-faced Water Snake (Homalopsis buccata) juvenile

Juvenile Puff-faced Water Snake caught in Singapore (photo courtesy of David Greonewoud)

puff-faced water snake Homalopsis buccata

Puff-faced Water Snake at the Queen Saovabha Snake Farm

puff-faced water snake Homalopsis buccata head shot

Head shot of Puff-faced Water Snake

Water Snakes for sale in Vietnamese market

Water Snakes for sale in Vietnamese market (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

English name: Puff-faced Water Snake (aka: “Banded Water Snake”)
Scientific name: Homalopsis buccata
Thai name: Ngu Hua-kra-lok, Ngu Leuamao

Description: To 137cm long. Robust, somewhat flattened body. Notable broad, brown head with dark eyestripes, a “V” marking on top of the head and an inverted “V” on the snout. Has keeled scales. Body is dark brown to black with narrow light bands that fade in old age. Underside is white to yellow with small black dots.

Similar Species: Bocourt’s Water Snake is thicker and darker with black markings interspersed with the brown.
Jagor’s Water Snake has small dark blotches on its sides.
Chanard’s Mud Snake has a yellow line down its side with a row of small black dots above it.
Yellow-bellied Water Snake has an unmarked head and smooth scales.
Tentacled Water Snake is more slender and flatter with a trapezoid-shaped head and tentacle-like appendages.
Red-tailed Pipe Snake has a small, dark head, smooth scales, and a barred underbelly.

Habitat: Rivers, lakes, ponds, swamps, rice paddies, drainage ditches, and any other lowland habitat with water, including brackish water. Can be found in the water or on the banks. During the day it hides in burrows and crab holes.

Contribution to the ecosystem: The Puff-faced Water Snake helps control fish, crustaceans, and frog populations. Juveniles provide food for larger snakes, large fish, monitors, and wading birds.

Danger to humans: Can bite, but rarely does so and is not dangerous to humans.

Conservation status and threats: Due to its broad distribution and ability to live in human-altered habitats, this snake is not considered at risk in Thailand. It is becoming popular in the pet trade, but that has only had an effect on populations at the local level. In Cambodia some populations are declining due to massive collection for food, skins and crocodile feed. Millions of this snake’s skins have been imported into China and the United States. It is on the Red List of Threatened Animals in Singapore.

Interesting facts: In September 2010, I came upon a juvenile Puff-faced Water Snake in Lumpani Park. Upon viewing and photographing the snake, an American tourist nearby got anxious and stated, “I ask only that you do not harm the snake.” Further inquiry found that he had bought the snake at a Bangkok market and “humanely” released it into the Lumpani Park lakes. He had no idea whether the snake was a native species or whether it was venomous.

Releasing a captive animal into the wild, even a native one, is not good for the local ecosystems. Non-native species, such as the red-eared sliders in the ponds, the Norway rats in the streets, and the English house sparrows in the trees, may prey on, outcompete, or spread disease among local species. And even native species that have spent time in captivity are highly at risk for transmitting disease into the wild populations. If you purchase a captive animal and can no longer care for it, please find a responsible person to take over care for the animal rather than releasing it into the wild.

References:
The IUCN Red List: Homalopsis buccata
Siam-Info: Homalopsinae
Wild Singapore Fact Sheets: Puff-faced Water Snake
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

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Tentacled Snake

Erpeton tentaculatum

Tentacled Snake Erpton tentaculum Vietnam Alex Krohn 1

Tentacled Snake trapped in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Tentacled Snake Erpton tentaculum Vietnam Alex Krohn 1

Another Tentacled Snake trapped in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Tentacled Snake  Erpeton tentaculatum head shot

Head shot of Tentacled Snake (photo courtesy of Maik Dobiey)

Tentacled Snake Erpeton tentaculatum tentacles

Tentacles of captive Tentacled Snake in Bangkok (photo courtesy of Wolfgang Wuster)

Tentacled Snake Erpton tentaculum in aquarium Chris Harrison

Tentacled Snake in aquarium (photo courtesy of Chris Harrison)

Tentacled Snake Erpton tentaculum head shot in captivity Chris Harrison

Head shot of captive Tentacled Snake (photo courtesy of Chris Harrison)

tentacled snake

Tentacled Snake surfacing at Woodland Park Zoo (photo courtesy of Nick Michalski)

Tentacled Snakes Erpeton tentaculatum

Tentacled Snakes (photo courtesy of Josh More – http://www.starmind.org)

Tentacled Snakes Erpeton tentaculatum

Tentacled Snake breathing (photo courtesy of Josh More – http://www.starmind.org)

tentacled snake zoo atlanta

Tentacled Snake at Zoo Atlanta (photo courtesy of Pierson Hill)

English name: Tentacled Snake (aka: “Tentacle Snake”, “Fishing Snake”)
Scientific name: Erpeton tentaculatum
Thai name: Ngu Kra Daen

Description: To 90cm long. Body is slender and flattened. Head is trapezoid-shaped. Has two short “tentacles” that protrude from either side of its snout. Tail is prehensile. Body color can be gray to brown, with different color phases including widely separated short dark bands, much broader dark bands with little separation, or longitudinal stripes. Head has a reddish-brown stripe on each side that runs from the appendage to the eye. Venter is yellowish-brown.

Similar Species: The Tentacled Snake is the only snake in the world with a pair of protruding appendages on its snout. It is also more slender and flattened than the other water snakes in our area.

Habitat: Found in stagnant lakes, streams, and rice paddies, in areas with murky water and vegetation. Can live in fresh, brackish, or sea water. May burrow into mud during dry periods, but otherwise is not found on land.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps keep fish populations in balance. Occasionally feeds on shrimp. Provides food for larger snakes, large fish, monitors, and wading birds.

Danger to humans: Rarely bites. Is a rear-fanged snake, but it has a weak, fish-specific venom and is of no danger to humans.

Conservation status and threats: The Tentacled Snake is common in its range, though there is some harvest for its meat. Like other water snakes it potentially faces declines in the Tonle Sap Lake due to the extensive snake harvest there.

Interesting facts: The Tentacled Snake has one of the most fascinating hunting techniques in the snake world. It ambushes its prey by waiting in a “J” position, with its tail anchoring its body to vegetation and its head curved back towards its body. When a fish swims nearby, the appendages on the snake’s head sense the fish’s movements via disturbances in the water. Once the fish gets close the snake moves part of its body behind the neck, creating a reflex movement in the fish. The snake immediately strikes with its head exactly where it anticipates the fish’s reflex movement to direct it. This is the only snake that is known to induce a flight response in its prey and strike where it anticipates the prey to be going, rather than aiming at its current location. Watch these videos to see the Tentacled Snake in action.

References:
Wikipedia: Erpeton tentaculatum
IUCN Redlist: Erpeton tentaculatum
Siam-Info: Homalopsinae
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
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Primarily Black/Brown Snakes, Rear-fanged Snakes in Bangkok, Water Snakes

 

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Yellow-bellied Water Snake

Enhydris plumbea

Yellow-bellied Water Snake Enhydris plumbea coiled to strike

Yellow-bellied Water Snake found on road near ponds in Phayao Province

Third Rice Paddy Snake Enhydris plumbea from same spot

Another Yellow-bellied Water Snake found in Phayao Province.

Yellow-bellied Water Snake Enhydris plumbea

Yellow-bellied Water Snake found on muddy ground at night in Phayao Province

Yellow-bellied Water Snake Enhydris plumbea

Yellow-bellied Water Snake found under fish pond rock in Kanchanaburi Province

Rice Paddy Snake Enhydris plumbea nostrils and eyes

Close-up of Yellow-bellied Water Snake, showing placement of nostrils and eyes

Two Gray Water Snakes Enhydris plumbea

Two Yellow-bellied Water Snakes found under same rock in VangVieng, Laos, showing variation in coloration

plumbeous water snake enhydris plumbea

Yellow-bellied Water Snake in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Eduard Galoyan)

Yellow-bellied Water Snake Hong Kong eating frog enhydris plumbea

Yellow-bellied Water Snake eating frog in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Anne Devan-Song)

Yellow-bellied Water Snake Enhydris plumbea  Kevin Messenger China 1

Yellow-bellied Water Snakes in China (photo courtesy of Kevin Messenger)

rice paddy snake Enhydris plumbea  Kevin Messenger China

Yellow-bellied Water Snakes showing unusual ventral color (photo courtesy of Kevin Messenger)

English name: Yellow-bellied Water Snake (aka: “Plumbeous Water Snake” or “Rice Paddy Snake”)
Scientific name: Enhydris plumbea
Thai name: Ngu Pling

Description: To 77cm long. This small water snake has a fairly broad head and smooth scales. It is uniformly dark above with a pale cream to yellow underbelly.

Similar Species: Rainbow Water Snake has a smaller head and colored lines going down its body.
Jagor’s Water Snake has small dark blotches down its sides.
Chanard’s Mud Snake has a yellow line down its side and a row of small dark dots above the line.
Sunbeam Snake is iridescent, has a narrow wedge-shaped head, and is whitish-gray on the bottom.
Red-tailed Pipe Snake has a small head and a barred underbelly.
Yellow-striped Caecilian lacks scales, has stripes rather than a yellow belly, and has a distinctly non-snake-like head.

Habitat: Slow-moving rivers, ponds, swamps, rice paddies, and other wetland habitats with stagnant water. Forages from dusk until dawn. Found on land more often than other water snakes, but rarely very far from the water.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control fish and frog populations. Provides food for larger snakes, large fish, monitors, and wading birds.

Danger to humans: The Yellow-bellied Water Snake will aggressively strike when cornered on land, but its small size keeps it from being able to inflict much damage. While it is a rear-fanged snake with some venom, the venom has a limited effect on humans, possibly leading to some swelling in the worst cases.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation issues. This is a very common species in Thailand, though its population in Taiwan is considered endangered.

Interesting facts: Yellow-bellied Water Snakes are excellent swimmers but move awkwardly on land. When faced with a threat on land, they will sometimes flip their bodies into the air and backwards with a reverse-striking motion, propelling themselves erratically towards the water.

References:
Snakes of Taiwan: Enhydris plumbea
Reptiles of Hong Kong: Enhydris plumbea
The IUCN Red List: Enhydris plumbea
Siam-Info: Homalopsinae
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

 

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Jagor’s Water Snake

Enhydris jagorii

Jagor's Water Snake Enhydris jagorii

Jagor’s Water Snake from Uttaradit Province (photo courtesy of John Murphy)

Jagor's Water Snake Enhydris jagorii

Another Jagor’s Water Snake from Uttaradit Province (photo courtesy of John Murphy)

Jagor's Water Snake Enhydris jagorii

Head shot of Jagor’s Water Snake, showing scale features (photo courtesy of John Murphy)

English name: Jagor’s Water Snake (aka: “Bangkok Mud Snake”)
Scientific name: Enhydris jagorii
Thai name: Ngu Sai-rung Lai Kwan

Description: To 68cm long. A short, thick snake. Head is short and rounded. Body is grayish-brown to dark brown with black blotches in a line down the sides. Underbelly is pale.

Similar Species: Chanard’s Mud Snake has a light yellow line and row of small dark spots on the sides rather than larger dark blotches.
Yellow-bellied Water Snake is uniformly dark above with no spots.
Puff-faced Water Snake is lighter in color with a light barred pattern on body and dark mask on the face.
Rainbow Water Snake has a smaller head and light stripes rather than dark spots.
Bocourt’s Water Snake is much larger and has narrow yellow banding on black/brown background coloration.
Tay Minh Water Snake is extremely similar in appearance to Jagor’s Water Snake, but is only found in the Mekong Delta.
Mekong Mud Snake (Enhydris subtaeniata) also is very similar in appearance, though it often has more prominent light striping above the dark spots. It is found in the Mekong Delta and the Bung Boraphet area of Nakorn Sawan province, not Bangkok.

Habitat: Found in floodplains, freshwater swamps and shallow marshes, including artificial wetlands and rice paddies.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control fish and frog populations. Provides food for larger snakes, large fish, monitors, and wading birds.

Danger to humans: Is an aggressive rear-fanged species and will bite when threatened but is not dangerous to humans.

Conservation status and threats: This species may only be known from the Chao Phraya drainage, though it may have a wider distribution. It is locally abundant where it is found, but the potentially limited extent of its range is a cause for concern as human encroachment and the possible draining or pollution of its wetlands are a threat to its current habitat.

Interesting facts: References to Jagor’s Water Snake vary widely on its current distribution. Some sources state that it is only found in a single location in the Central Plain, others state that it is found broadly in the Central Plain and Southeastern Basin, including Bangkok, and still others state that it is a wide-ranging species that can be found in most of Thailand and beyond. Why the discrepancy? It’s likely due to taxonomic confusion. New species are discovered every year in Thailand, and often what was previously thought to a be a single species turns out to be 2, 3, or even 10 or more different species. At the same time, different species discovered in different areas sometimes turn out to have been the same species all along. As these things get sorted out, different references will update their records at different times (or sometimes even refuse to accept the same explanation), and thus such discrepancies arise.

In this case, the problem is likely that the Tay Minh Water Snake and Long-head Water Snake are species of water snake which are extremely similar to Jagor’s Water Snake, but are found in other areas. The Tay Minh Water Snake is found only in the Mekong Delta, while the Long-head Water Snake is only found in Tonlé Sap Lake, Cambodia. Jagor’s Water Snake was also confused with Chanard’s Mud Snake and the Mekong Mud Snake. Most of the records of Jagor’s Water Snake from outside the Chao Phraya drainage are probably the result of confusion with another species.

References:
A New Thai Enhydris
IUCN Redlist: Enhydris jagorii
IUCN Redlist: Enhydris subtaeniata
Siam-Info: Homalopsinae
Reptile Database: Enhydris jagorii
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
John C. Murphy, personal communication
Michael Cota, personal communication
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry

 

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Rainbow Water Snake

Enhydris enhydris

Rainbow Water Snake Enhydris enhydris

Rainbow Water Snake found in Pathum Thani Province (photo courtesy of Michael Cota)

Rainbow Water Snake Enhydris enhydris Vietnam Alex Krohn

Rainbow Water Snake trapped in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Rainbow Water Snake Enhydris enhydris Vietnam Alex Krohn 1

Snake in hand, showing underbelly coloration (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Rainbow Water Snake enhydris maetha lampang

Head shot of Rainbow Water Snake found in Lampang Province (photo courtesy of Bernard DuPont)

Rainbow Water Snake enhydri enhydris lake sonhkla

Rainbow Water Snake found in Lake Songkhla (photo courtesy of John Murphy)

Rainbow Water Snake Enhydris enhydris

Rainbow Water Snake in captivity in Bangkok (photo courtesy of Wolfgang Wuster)

Tom Williams enhydris enhydris Rainbow Water Snake Pathum Thani

Juvenile Rainbow Water Snake found in Pathum Thani (photo courtesy of Tom Williams)

Water Snakes for sale in Vietnamese market

Water Snakes for sale in Vietnamese market (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Common Smooth-scaled Water Snake kolkata india dead

Rainbow Water Snake killed by field worker in India

Rainbow Water Snake enhydris enhydris dor

Rainbow Water Snake found dead on road in India

English name: Rainbow Water Snake (aka “Rainbow Mud Snake”, “Striped Water Snake”, “Schneider’s Water Snake”)
Scientific name: Enhydris enhydris
Thai name: Ngu Sai-rung, Ngu Plaa

Description: To 97cm long. Robust body with relatively small head for a water snake. Scales are smooth and iridescent. Olive-brown above with two yellow or reddish stripes bordered by dark stripes on the top and sides. White to yellow below with a dark stripe or dots down the center of belly.

Similar Species: Yellow-bellied Water Snake has a broader head and lacks colored lines.
Sunbeam Snake has a wedge-shaped head, more iridescent scales, and lacks colored lines on its body.
Red-tailed Pipe Snake lacks colored lines and has a barred underbelly.
Chanard’s Mud Snake has a broader head and dark spots above the line running down its side.
Jagor’s Water Snake has a broader head and dark blotches running down its side.

Habitat: A highly aquatic species that is always found in or near wetlands. Is found in a wide range of aquatic habitats, including manmade lakes and ponds. Spends most of its time hunting just off the shore, taking advantage of the tangles of vegetation in the mud at the water’s edge. Is rarely seen in the open, preferring to remain underwater or within vegetation mats and tangles. Does not tolerate brackish water.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Primarily keeps fish populations in balance, but also feeds on frogs and tadpoles. Provides food for larger snakes, large fish, monitors, and wading birds.

Danger to humans: Like other water snakes in its family, the Rainbow Water Snake has a very mild rear-fanged venom that does not pose a threat to humans.

Conservation status and threats: Due to its ability to survive in a wide range of habitats and tolerate human encroachment, the Rainbow Water Snake is a very common species in Thailand. However, a recent significant increase in the harvest of water snakes in Cambodia (for food, skins, and crocodile feed) has led to declines in some populations there. As many as four million Rainbow Water Snakes are estimated to be captured from the Tonle Sap Lake every year.

Interesting facts: Water snakes have a number of specialized traits to support their aquatic lifestyle. These include eyes positioned on top of the head (to see prey and threats while remaining underwater), nostrils that can be closed while underwater, and young that are born live (eliminating the need for a dry place to lay eggs).

References:
The IUCN Red List: Enhydris enhydris
Reptile Channel: Mud Snakes
Semi-aquatic Snake Communities in the Central Plain Region of Thailand
The Ecology of the Water Snakes of Ban Tha Hin, Songkhla Province, Thailand
Nature Malaysia: Rainbow Water Snake
Siam-Info: Homalopsinae
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

 

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Chanard’s Mud Snake

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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Bocourt’s Water Snake

Enhydris bocourti

Bocourt's Water Snake Enhydris bocourti

Bocourt's Water Snake trapped in Vietnam (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Bocourt's Water Snake Enhydris bocourti

Bocourt's Water Snake (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Bocourt's Water Snake Enhydris bocourti head shot

Bocourt's Water Snake head shot (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

Bocourt's Water Snake Enhydris bocourti

Bocourt's Water Snake in hand (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

adult Bocourt's Mud Snake Enhydris bocourti

Bocourt’s Water Snake (photo courtesy of John C. Murphy)

Bocourt's Mud Snake juvenile Enhydris bocourti

A juvenile Bocourt’s Water Snake (photo courtesy of John C. Murphy)

Water Snakes for sale in Vietnamese market

Water Snakes for sale in Vietnamese market (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

English name: Bocourt’s Water Snake
Scientific name: Enhydris bocourti
Thai name: Ngu Zi, Ngu Leuam-ao

Description: To 110cm long. With a very robust body, this is the largest of the water snakes in Thailand. Head is large and blunt. Eyes are red. Body has large brown blotches/bands with black borders that narrow on the sides, with yellow bands in-between that broaden correspondingly. Brown areas sometimes have thin tan-to-orange line in the center Both the light and dark coloration becomes more indistinct as the snake ages. Head is reddish-brown with a cream upper lip. Underbelly is yellowish-white.

Similar Species: Puff-faced Water Snake is not as robust, lighter in color, and has a distinct dark face mask.
Rainbow Water Snake has a smaller head and has long stripes running down its body.
Jagor’s Water Snake is much smaller, lacks bands, and has black blotches on its sides.
Yellow-bellied Water Snake is smaller and is uniformly dark above with no pattern.

Habitat: Found in swamps, ponds, shallow lakes, rice fields, and other stagnant waters in lowlands. Is highly aquatic and usually stays near water, but will travel over land during rainy nights. Conceals itself among logs in or near water during the day.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control fish and frog populations. Provides food for larger snakes, large fish, monitors, and wading birds.

Danger to humans: Bocourt’s Water Snake is a rear-fanged species but its venom is not a threat to humans. Though it is not aggressive, its large size and sharp teeth allow it to give a nasty, painful bite.

Conservation status and threats: There are no known serious threats to its Thai populations. However, Bocourt’s Water Snake is harvested for its meat and skins in several countries. In Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake, extended overharvest has led to the species being rarely found and it now comprises only a small proportion of the annual snake catch. There have also been declines due to overharvest in Vietnam. In some areas it has begun to be farmed in large numbers, which could relieve pressure on wild populations.

Bocourt’s Water Snake is rare in Bangkok, but may be more common in the rural areas around the city.

Interesting facts: Like many water snakes, Bocourt’s Water Snake releases a foul-smelling musk and feces when handled. Along with biting this is one of its primary defense mechanisms.

References:
IUCN Redlist: Enhydris bocourti
Siam-Info: Homalopsinae
CTV News: Massive snake harvest threatens Cambodian lake
Vietnam News: Water Snakes make invalid soldier a millionaire
Nature Malaysia: Bocourt’s Water Snake
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

 

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