This unusual snake gets its name from the unique tentacles on its head which can sense the smallest of vibrations coming from surrounding fish and unsuspecting prey in the water.

They are native to South East Asia and found mainly across Thailand and southern Vietnam in stagnant or slow bodies of moving water, feeding exclusively on small fish and can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes without coming up for air.

Chester Zoo is home to the only tentacled snakes in zoos in the UK.

Unlike the majority of snake species, tentacled snakes produce eggs inside their bodies during pregnancy and give birth underwater to live young, as opposed to laying eggs. This makes it very difficult to determine when they are pregnant, so we use ultrasound technology to understand when they are pregnant and how far into the pregnancy they are.

The species can be seen in the Tripa Forest Research Station in Monsoon Forest – the UK’s largest ever indoor zoo exhibit – which puts a spotlight on a number of animals that can be found across South East Asia.

Read more

Interesting facts

Where they live Southeast Asia, mainly Thailand and south Vietnam.
Habitat Stagnant or slow moving water
Size Up to 90cm
Weight Up to 150g
Threats  Hunting

Species Information

Scientific name Erpeton tentaculatum
Order Serpentes
Family Homalopsidae
Genus Erpeton
IUCN status Least Concern
Roles in the zoo

Husbandry Development and/or Skills Training: This is a species for which we’re developing particular husbandry methods to address an identified issue and/or helping to build staff capacity in specific husbandry or field conservation skills.

Visitor experience

Exhibit Enhancement: This species connects visitors with the geographic areas that they originate from and helps develop further understanding of the environmental issues facing the species in those regions.