Thai National Parks

Snakes of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Spine-tailed sea snake

In Thai: งูชายธงนวล, ngu chay thong nuan

Binomial name: Aipysurus eydouxii, John Edward Gray, 1849

Aipysurus eydouxii, commonly known as the beaded sea snake, marbled seasnake, or spine-tailed seasnake, is a species of sea snake. This snake is unusual amongst sea snakes in that it feeds exclusively on fish eggs. As part of this unusual diet, this species has lost its fangs, and the venom glands are almost entirely atrophied.

Etymology

The specific name, eydouxii, commemorates the French naturalist Joseph Fortuné Théodore Eydoux.

Geographic range

This species is found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia, Vietnam, and New Guinea.

Description

Adults of A. eydouxii may attain a snout to vent length (SVL) of 1 m. The head shields are regular and symmetrical. The smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 17 rows at midbody. The ventrals, which are distinct throughout the length of the body, range from 141 to 149; the subcaudals, from 27 to 30.

Habitat

A. eydouxii inhabits shallow bays and estuaries.

Diet

A. eydouxii eats the eggs of fish. Relative to other sea snakes, it has several derived characteristics related to its special diet. These include strong throat musculature, consolidation of lip scales, reduction and loss of teeth, greatly reduced body size, and (due to a dinucleotide deletion in the 3FTx gene) much reduced toxicity of the venom.

Only one other species of sea snake, Emydocephalus annulatus, shares A. eydouxii’s eggs-only diet.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Subphylum
Vertebrata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Suborder
Serpentes
Family
Hydrophiidae
Genus
Aipysurus
Species
Aipysurus eydouxii

Common names

  • English:
    • Spine-tailed sea snake
    • Eydoux' sea snake
    • Marbled sea snake
    • Spot-banded Sea Snake
  • French: Aipysure D'eydoux
  • Thai: งูชายธงนวล, ngu chay thong nuan

Synonyms

  • Aipysurus eydouxii, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Aipysurus eydouxii, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Aipysurus eydouxii, Harold Cogger (2000)
  • Aipysurus eydouxii, John C. Murphy & Merel J. Cox & Harold K. Voris (1999)
  • Aepyurus sic eydouxi, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1943)
  • Aepyurus sic eydouxii, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1943)
  • Aipysurus eydouxi sic, Norman Smedley (1931)
  • Aipysurus eydouxi, Norman Smedley (1931)
  • Aipysurus eydouxii, George Albert Boulenger (1896)
  • Aipysurus margaritiphorus, Pieter Bleeker (1858)
  • Aipysurus margaritophorus, Pieter Bleeker (1858)
  • Thalassophis muraenaeformis sic, Karl Patterson Schmidt (1852)
  • Thalassophis muraeneformis, Karl Patterson Schmidt (1852)
  • Thalassophis anguillaeformis, Karl Patterson Schmidt (1852)
  • Tomogaster eydouxii, John Edward Gray (1849)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Photos

Aipysurus eydouxii

Range Map