Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Crab-eating mud snake

Fordonia leucobalia, Hermann Schlegel, 1837

(In Thai: งูปลาหัวเทา, ngu plaa hua thao)

The aquatic snake Fordonia leucobalia is known by the common names crab-eating water snake and white-bellied mangrove snake. It is a common resident of mangrove swamps and tropical tidal wetlands from Southeast Asia to the coasts of Northern Australia.

Individual F. leucobalia reach up to a meter in length, and are brown or gray in color with a white belly. There is significant color variation. Some have spots. The anatomy reflects the snake's water-living lifestyle: the eyes are located atop the head, and the nostrils have valves that close when the snake dives.

The snake eats small prey that live in its habitat, such as frogs and small fish, and it specializes in crabs, hence its name. Like other homalopsines, F. leucobalia bears live young.

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Scientific classification

Fordonia leucobalia

Common names

  • German: Krebs-Wassertrugnatter
  • English:
    • Crab-eating mud snake
    • White-bellied mangrove snake
    • Crab-eating (water) snake
  • Thai:
    • งูปลาหัวเทา, ngu plaa hua thao
    • งูกินเปี้ยว, ngu gin pieow


  • Fordonia leucobalia, John C. Murphy & Harold K. Voris (2014)
  • Fordonia leucobalia, Nguyen Van Sang et al. (2009)
  • Fordonia leucobalia, Harold Cogger (2000)
  • Fordonia leucobalia, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Fordonia leucobalia, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Fordonia leucobalia, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1943)
  • Fordonia varabilis, William John Macleay (1878)
  • Fordonia papuensis, William John Macleay (1877)
  • Fordonia bicolor, William Theobald (1868)
  • Hemiodontus chalybaeus, Giorgio Jan (1863)

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)


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Fordonia leucobalia - Mueang Phuket District, Phuket
Fordonia leucobalia - Mueang Phuket District, Phuket

Range Map

Distribution map of Crab-eating mud snake, Fordonia leucobalia in Thailand
  • Krabi Coast
  • Mueang Satun District, Satun
  • Phuket Coast
  • Satun Coast
  • Trang Coast
Range map of Fordonia leucobalia in Thailand