Little file snake Acrochordus granulatus

NON-VENOMOUS

The little file snake is an aquatic marine and estuarine snake. They are grey, brown or almost black in colour with narrow whitish to fawn-coloured cross-bands that fade on the belly. The skin is loose and covered in fine, pointed scales giving it the appearance and texture of a file. It feeds mainly on small crabs and fish. Little file snakes grow to an average length of 60 cm (although specimens are known to 1.2 m).

Description

This species is completely aquatic and nearly helpless on land. Their thin skin rips easily, but has a very rough texture; hence their common name. They are sexually dimorphic, with males being much smaller (thinner and longer bodies), compared to the larger (short stocky) females. Most interesting is that this species varies between sexes in feeding habits, the males actively hunt prey whereas the females sit and wait as ambush predators (Shine, 1991). They are found mainly in small ponds, swamps and estuaries, but have also been found at sea.

In recent years, this species also entered the pet trade. Farmed animals usually used for skins are the primary source of importation. Animals from the Philippines are particularly blue, and rarely enter the pet trade since reptile exportation from the Philippines is strictly banned. This snake is a non-venomous constrictor unlike most fully aquatic Asian snakes which are rear fanged.

Geographic range

Found from both coasts of peninsular India though Southeast Asia, the Indo-Australian Archipelago and northern Australia to the Solomon Islands. This includes Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China (Hainan), the Philippines (Luzon, Cebu and Batayan), Malaysia, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Flores, Timor, Sulawesi, Ternate, Ambon, and coastal Irian Jaya), Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands the coast along northern Australia (Northern Territory and eastern Queensland). No type locality was given with the original description, although Smith (1943) gives "India" and Saint-Girons (1972)

Feeding

According to Shine (1991), 50% of the acrochords tested for stomach contents yielded either rainbow fish, grunters, cat fish or sleepy cod. There is no evidence suggesting that they feed on amphibians. Occasionally known to eat eels. Their rough skin is used for the purpose of underwater constriction, which is how they hold onto their prey. Females ambush predators while males forage actively.