Tentacled Snake, Erpeton tentaculatum

The Tentacled Snake (Erpeton tentaculatum) gets its name from the two fleshy rostral appendages (tentacles) located on the snakes snout. This unique feature allows for simple classification of the species and makes it one of the most easily recognizable snakes on the planet. Each scale-covered tentacle measures less than a quarter inch (4-5 mm). You may also hear this species referred to as the Fishing Snake or the Tentacled Fishing Snake because the species is strictly piscivorous, meaning it preys solely on fish.

Inhabiting South East Asia, tentacled snakes are present all over the Indochinese Peninsula (Thailand, Cambodia, and South Vietnam). Solely existing in murky waters the habitats of this species consists of slow-moving or stagnant waters. The young are born live, underwater and consist of five-13 young.

The tentacled snake is a comparatively small species measuring between 20-25 inches.  Although the longest snake on record, a female, was measured at almost 32 inches long. You may find the tentacled snake to be striped or blotched with colors morphing from dark brown or gray to light beige. Relatively large, lateral eyes bulge from the side of the snake’s face. Through close examination of this species’ hunting practices it has been confirmed the eyes retract when it begins to strike its prey. Venomous fangs can be located deep in the rear of its mouth, although interestingly enough, its venom works specific to the fish it feeds on.

There has recently been more research into The tentacled snake’s unique hunting and ambush feeding practices. Postured in a J-shape, the snake initiates its attack by creating a disturbance in the water and anticipating the fish’s instinctual movement. The snake innately predicts this flight response. Using trickery the snake then deceives the fish into trying to escape in the wrong direction, leading its prey right its mouth.

Image Caption: Tentacled Snake at Toledo Zoo. Credit: Ruby 1×2/Wikipedia (public domain)