And bang 2015 proves to be the year that keeps on giving, or maybe I finally got a respite from breaking that mirror 6 years and 11 months ago. Last week (kind of) the snapping pistol shrimp Synalpheus regaliswas in the spotlight. This week we have the Mr X of the animal world. Hope you guys enjoy.
Issue #47 - Tentacled Snake
Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Chordata
Class – Reptilia
Order – Squamata
Family – Colubridae
Genus – Erepton
Species – tentaculatum
Related Species - The Tentacled Snake is one of a number of closely related rear fanged Water Snakes (1)
Range - Tentacled Snakes can be found in the rivers, streams, lakes and costal water of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Tentacled snakes are a small aquatic serpent reaching lengths of 50 to 90cm, and processing mottled black and brown camouflage. The species rarely leaves the water and prefers watercourses where visibility is poor. Despite this the species has good low light eyesight and enhances navigation by using the two fleshy tentacle like protrusions found on its snout. These tentacles are filled with neurons and are sensitive to even the slightest disturbance in the water column, allowing the snake to vector in on the disturbance and then access the cause through sight (2).
If the disturbance is prey then the snake is ready, with the body naturally resting in a strike position and able to hold almost half an hours worth of air before the snake needs to head to the surface for another breath. To the normal eye when the snake strikes it appears just like any other strike; a mixture of good range finding and patience, it’s only when the strike is slowed down that the real mastery behind the strike is seen. When threatened the muscles of a fish, the tentacled snake’s favoured prey, spasm in a movement called a C-Start, thus propelling the fish away from threatening vibrations in the water. The tentacled snake takes advantage of this, moving part of its body behind the fish, thus activating the C-Start reflex and sending the prey towards the head and venomous fangs of the snake (3).
While it’s prowess as a hunter in the water is formidable the tentacled snake struggles to move on land. As such the species has removed the need to leave the water and mates under the surface of its aquatic home and even gives birth to live young. If caught on land the species will burrow into the mud and wait until darkness when its senses are better suited to guide it back to the nearest watercourse.
Five Weird Water Snakes
The Dog Faced Water Snake (Cerberus rynchops) uses a sidewinding locomotion to leap, the only snake to truly be able to jump, across mudflats
The Keel Bellied Water Snake (Bitia hydrosies) has massively enlarged palatine teeth, while suspected to be used in feeding their exact purpose is still unknown
While most snake’s swallow their prey whole, the Crab Eating Water Snake (Fordonia leucobalia) is one of two species to rip its prey apart before eating it.
The Elephant Trunk Snake (Acrochorus arafurae) unlike the other species mentioned is a constrictor, and has developed jagged scales to limit fish, particularly those with a mucus coating to their scales, from moving
While invasive species are never welcome in new environments, the introduction of the Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus) into the Great Lakes helped save the rapidly declining population of the local Northen Water Snake subspecies(Nerodia sipedon insularum), with the fish currently making up 90% of the species diet
1 - www.arkive.org
2 - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/02/100202-tentacles-snakes/
3 - The tentacled snake turns a fish's defence into a death march". Not Exactly Rocket Science: Science for Everyone. ScienceBlogs
4 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Lake Erie water snake (Nerodia sipedon insularum) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (Report). 2011-08-16
1 - https://bangkokherps.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/tentacled-snake-erpton-tentaculum-vietnam-alex-krohn-1.jpg
2 - http://whozoo.org/Intro2002/StephReder/wschlang1.jpg
3 - http://as.vanderbilt.edu/catanialab/manage/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/tentacled-snakes-1.jpg
4 - http://www.yurtopic.com/science/nature/images/amazing-snakes/elephant-trunk-snake.jpg
As we come to a close of this issue we bid farewell to the boatload of water snakes and their amazing talents. Next week we come across one of nature’s most diabolical creatures, something that is part mantis and part hornet. Until then critic, comment, suggest a new species to cover and check out past issues using Impurest’s Bestiary.