Tentacled Snake

The tentacled snake is easily recognizable from its two prong-like scaly appendages or tentacles at the top of its head, giving it its name. Endemic to Southeast Asia, these snakes have venomous fangs positioned at the back of the mouth that they use while preying upon fish that they mainly consume. However, they generally do not harm humans.

Scientific Classification

E. tentaculatum

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

E. tentaculatum

It is the sole species found in its genus Erpeton, named by French naturalist Bernard-Germain-Étienne de La Ville-sur-Illon, comte de Lacépède in 1800.

Tentacled Snake


Size: Length: 20 to 35 in (50 to 90 cm) Weight: 0.31 to 0.44 pounds (140 to 200 g)

Body and coloration: Its entire body and head are flat, with rough scales that feel like sandpaper. The twin tentacles that they are known for protrude from their snout.

There are two phases of coloring seen in these snakes – striped or mottled. Both variations range from light tan to dark brown or gray, resembling a tree branch or a twig.

Range and Distribution

Tentacled snakes are found in Southeast Asia, inhabiting parts of Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia.


They primarily live in the murky waters of rice paddies, lakes, and stagnant streams, though they can also dwell in the fresh, sea, and brackish water as well.

Tentacled Snake Image
Tentacled Snake Picture


The diet of the tentacled snake consists mainly of fish but has even been observed consuming frogs and crabs.


It lives for approximately 14 years.


  • These snakes are aquatic, spending most of their time in water. They are noted to stay underwater for about 30 minutes at a stretch without moving to the surface for air.
  • They rarely come to land, except sometimes at night and during the dry season, buring themselves in the mud till the time it rains again.
  • Being nocturnal, the tentacled snake mostly hunts at night. They lie in wait in weeds, motionless and curved in a distinctive “J” shape, ambushing fish that pass them.
  • It displays several gestures while capturing its prey like retracting its eyes into its head.


Larger reptiles like crocodiles may hunt them.


  • The distinct tentacles on the top of the snake’s head play a vital role in their perception and feeding habits, alerting them to nearby prey. In fact, the nerves present in those tentacles provide information to the part of the snake’s brain that receives optic signals, giving it both visual and sensory output.
  • They have muscles in their neck area that help them make a sudden rippling movement the moment they sense their prey. The fish reflexively move in reaction to the sudden movements, trying to swim away, but end up getting tricked towards the waiting jaws of the snake.
  • Tentacled snakes use their prehensile tail to anchor themselves underwater, as they position their body upside-down in a J-like posture.
  • Their coloring and patterns help them camouflage with their surroundings.

Mating and Reproduction

They are viviparous, giving birth to live young underwater. Around 10 of them are born at a time.

Tentacled Snake Baby
Images of Tentacled Snake

Life Cycle

The newborn snakes are fully developed and become independent from birth. They develop natural instincts for hunting and anchoring on tree branches using their tail. The juveniles roughly grow twice their size in two months.

Conservation Status

The IUCN lists the tentacled snake as “LC” or “Least Concern”.

Interesting Facts

  • These snakes are sometimes seen as pets but are generally difficult to acquire and occasionally hard to breed in captivity.

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