Elephant Trunk Snake (Acrochordus javanicus)

I think it’s about time I blogged about another snake. I’m a big fan of them, and surprisingly have only blogged about one (the Inland Taipan). I think it’s because although I like snakes a lot, I know very little about them, so I can’t just pick a species and blog about it. Still, they are woefully underrepresented in this blog, and I’m on a mission to remedy this problem. So today’s animal is a lovely reptile, the elephant trunk snake.

As the name suggests, the elephant trunk snake vaguely resembles the trunk of an elephant. The snake’s other names – the Javan file snake and Javan wart snake – also are descriptive, referring to the snake’s rough skin. Unsurprisingly, the Javan wart snake lives in Indonesia, but also in other Pacific islands and in India.

The characteristic feature of the the elephant trunk snake is its skin. Unlike most snakes, which have fairly tight skin and overlapping scales, the elephant snake is known for its baggy skin (hence the name elephant trunk snake). Each scale has a warty projection, and none of the scales overlap. The skin makes moving in water much easier, but means the snake is pretty much unable to move on land.

An elephant trunk snake. Notice the folds of skin that are so characteristic of this species.

An elephant trunk snake. Notice the folds of skin that are so characteristic of this species.

Unsurprisingly then, the elephant trunk snake spends most of its life in water, living in streams and rivers, and occasionally venturing out to sea. Males grow to five feet, females up to eight. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to go wandering in a stream in Indonesia to stumble upon an eight foot long snake. Luckily for us, elephant snakes are not venomous, and instead constrict their prey, using their sharp scales and prehensile tail to grip the slippery fish they feed upon.

An elephant snake munching on a tasty fish.

An elephant snake munching on a tasty fish.

Unlike many snakes, the elephant snake bears live young. Basically the female has a whole bunch of eggs inside of her and these hatch and then her babies come out all alive and everything. Because their baggy skin hasn’t fully developed, young elephant trunk snakes spend part of their time on land. Once they have matured, however, moving on land becomes really difficult and they move into the water.

Elephant trunk snakes are kind of weird looking snakes – but still, they are pretty cool animals. I’d like to apologize to the snake world once again for failing to include very many snakes in this blog. There will be more to come, I promise.


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