Acrochordus javanicusJavan File Snake, Elephant Trunk Snake

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Geographic Range

The Javan wart snake is found on the coastal regions of India and Ceylon, and also across the Indo-Australian islands as far as the Solomons. It originated in India.

Habitat

The Javan wart snake lives in the brackish zone of rivers, streams, and estuaries, and it sometimes swims short distances into the sea. It is also found near washed out banks.

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds
  • rivers and streams
  • coastal

Physical Description

The Javan wart snake has a muscular body and the male grows up to a length of five feet. The female is usually bigger and more powerfully built, with a length of up to eight feet. The top side of the snake's body is brown in color, and its sides and belly are pale yellow. The skin of the Javan wart snake is loose and baggy, with small rough scales. The scales are formed adjacent to each other and they do not overlap. On each scale, there is a sharp triangular ridge. The ventral scales of this snake are of the same size and shape as the other scales, unlike other types of snakes that often have enlarged ventral scales.

The shape of the snake's snouted head is flat and broad, with nostrils located at the top side of its head, giving this snake a boa-like appearance, although the width of the snake's trunk is identical to its head. The snake also has a short and mobile tail.

  • Range mass
    3 to 10 kg
    6.61 to 22.03 lb

Reproduction

The Javan wart snake bears live young, about 20 to 30 offspring at one time. It has amniotic eggs, which are retained in the oviducts of the snake and are fertilized internally. The young snakes are semi-terrestrial, until their baggy skin is fully developed. This is because the baggy skin restricts them from moving efficiently on land. Besides a difference in size, the young can also be distinguished by the irregular, longitudinal blotches on their skin. These blotches fade over time, and eventually disappear when the adult stage is reached.

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

The Javan wart snake usually hides in the daytime and becomes active at night. Sometimes it will forage both during the day and at night. The snake captures its prey by folding its body around it, using its prehensile tail and the sharp scales to ensure a firm grip. The Javan wart snake rarely comes onto land. Their baggy skin is developed for agility under water and restricts them from traveling efficiently on land. Most of the time, the snake stays under the water surface, and it can do so for up to 40 minutes continously. When it need to breathe, the snake floats to the water surface and position its nostrils above water for 15 to 20 seconds.

Food Habits

The Javan wart snake is a carnivore. It feeds primarily on fish and other aquatic animals, but will sometimes feed on frogs. An interesting fact about this snake is that it does not bulge after feeding like other snakes do. Its body remains slack all the time because its skin is so loose and baggy.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Their skin can be processed for manufacturing leather goods.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

They are easily aggravated. Although they are not venomous, their recurved teeth break off easily and are left inside one's flesh if a person is being bitten, thus creating unpleasant wounds.

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans
    • bites or stings

Conservation Status

The Javan wart snake is becoming increasingly rare. This is indicated by the fact that they are now seldom offered for sale. One reason for their scarcity is that they have been captured in large numbers because their skin is used for making leather goods. The other reason is that an effective and successful method of breeding is still not availiable yet.

Contributors

Kenneth Chiu (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

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coastal

the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

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References

Bernhard, Grzimek. 1975. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia Vol 6. Von Nostrand Reinhold Ltd, New York.

Walter, J. Bock. 1982. Synopsis and Classification of Living Organisms Vol 2: Chordata. Mcgraw Hill Inc, New York.

Peter, Brazaitif. Myrna, E. Watanabe. 1992. Snakes of the World. Michael Friedman Publishing Group Inc, New York.

Ludwig, Trutnan. 1986. Non Venomous Snakes. Barrons' Educational Series Inc, New York.