Bockadam, Cerberus rynchops

You may hear the Bockadam (Cerberus rynchops) referred to as the Asian Bockadam, the Bockadam Snake, the Dog-faced Water Snake or the New Guinea Bockadam. It belongs to the largest snake family, the Colubridae.

Unlike most Colubridae snakes, the Bockadam is mildly venomous. While its venom rarely affects humans, when it is threatened, the Bockadam will release a foul smell and may bite. Its venom is found in grooves in its small fangs in the rear of the mouth.

The Bockadam feeds on small fish and crustaceans; although larger snakes in this species have even been known to consume eels, mudskippers, catfish and mullet. When feeding the Bockadam takes a sit-and-wait approach or may find its way into a mudskipper’s burrow. It may also bait its prey with its tail and then pounce.

The species is abundant in a variety of coastal habitats throughout Asia and Australia. Most commonly found in salt or brackish waters, the Bockadam has been known to venture inland into freshwater, as well. This aquatic species is actually said to thrive surrounded by human activity and commonly is found in mangrove forests, mudflats, tidal creeks, estuaries, rivers and sometimes coral reefs.

You may notice the eyes of the Bockadam are relatively close together and are set very near its snout. The snout has valved nostrils, which shut on and off dependent on whether this species is on land or in water. It displays a distinct “lip” looking feature at its mouth and the body is covered with shields or scales that are relatively large in size.

On average, the adult Bockadam is just under two feet long. At birth it appears identical to the adult but measures only 6.7 to 9.8 inches. A female Bockadam gives birth to live young and may produce a litter consisting of anywhere from eight to 30 offspring.

Image Caption: Male Bockadam. Credit: Mark O’Shea/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)