Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Javan wart snake

Acrochordus javanicus, Clas Fredrik Hornstedt, 1787

(In Thai: งูงวงช้าง (ngu nguang chang))

Acrochordus javanicus, commonly known as the elephant trunk snake or the Javan file snake, is a species of snake in the family Acrochordidae, a family which represents a group of primitive non-venomous aquatic snakes. The species is also kept as an exotic pet.

Description

Acrochordus javanicus possesses a wide and flat head, and its nostrils are situated on the top of the snout. Those head particularities confer to A. javanicus a certain resemblance with boas. However, its head is only as wide as its body. Females are bigger than males, and the maximum total length (including tail) of an individual is 2.4 m. The dorsal side of the snake's body is brown, and its ventral side is pale yellow.

The skin is baggy and loose giving the impression that it is too big for the animal. The skin is covered with small rough adjacent scales. The skin is also used in the tannery industry.

The top of the head has no large shields, but instead is covered with very small granular scales. There are no ventral scales. The body scales are in about 120 rows around the body. The body is stout, and the tail is short and prehensile.

A. javanicus is fully adapted to live underwater so much that its body cannot support its weight out of water and leaving the water can cause it serious injury.

Reproduction

An aquatic snake, A. javanicus is ovoviviparous, with the incubation lasting 5 to 6 months and the female expelling 6 to 17 young.

Geographic range

Acrochordus javanicus is found in South-East Asia west of the Wallace Line: southern Thailand, the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo (Kalimantan, Sarawak), a number of Indonesian islands (Java, Sumatra, and (possibly) Bali); possibly also in Cambodia and Vietnam, although the last is discredited by the IUCN.

Habitat

Acrochordus javanicus has a coastal living habitat like rivers, estuaries and lagoons. But it prefers freshwater and brackish environments.

Feeding

Acrochordus javanicus is an ambush predator that preys on fishes and amphibians. It usually catches its prey by folding its body firmly around the prey. Its loose, baggy skin and its sharp scales find their utility by limiting any risk of escape of the prey, in particular fishes which have bodies covered with a viscous, protective mucus.

Behaviour

Acrochordus javanicus is nocturnal. It spends most of its life under water and rarely goes on land. It can stay under water for up to 40 minutes.

Original publication

  • Hornstedt CF (1787). "Beskrifning på en Ny Orm från Java ". Kongl. Vetenskaps Akademiens Handlingar 4: 306-308 + Plate XII. (Acrochordus javanicus, new species). (in Latin and Swedish).

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Subphylum
Vertebrata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Suborder
Serpentes
Family
Acrochordidae
Genus
Acrochordus
Species
Acrochordus javanicus

Common names

  • German: Java-Warzenschlange
  • English:
    • Javan wart snake
    • Elephant trunk snake
    • Javan file snake
  • Thai: งูงวงช้าง (ngu nguang chang)

Synonyms

  • Acrochordus javanicus, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Acrochordus javanicus, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Acrochordus javanicus, Roy W. McDiarmid, Jonathan A. Campbell & T'Shaka A. Touré (1999)
  • Acrochordus javanicus, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Acrochordus javanicus, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Acrochordus javanicus, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1943)
  • Acrochordus javanicus, George Albert Boulenger (1893)
  • Acrochordus javanicus, André Marie Constant Duméril & Gabriel Bibron (1854)
  • Potamophis javanica, Karl Patterson Schmidt (1852)
  • Acrochordus javanicus, Heinrich Kuhl (1824)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Photos

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Elephant trunk snake

Range Map

Distribution map of Javan wart snake, Acrochordus javanicus in Thailand
  • Bang Khae District, Bangkok
  • Bang Khen District, Bangkok
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Nong Khaem District, Bangkok
  • Pathum Wan District, Bangkok
  • Prachantakham District, Prachinburi
  • Sirindhorn Peat Swamp Forest
  • Su-ngai Kolok District, Narathiwat
  • Taling Chan District, Bangkok
Range map of Acrochordus javanicus in Thailand