15 June 2015
(Left) Our veterinary and herpetological teams give a pregnancy ultrasound scan to an unusual South East Asian tentacled snake. (Right) Monsoon Forest is home to the only tentacled snakes found in zoos in the UK.

The scans confirmed that the pair of tentacled snakes – a species native to South East Asia – are both carrying eggs and expecting young in the coming weeks.

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

Lead keeper, Matt Cook said:

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. It’s therefore difficult to determine if they are pregnant until late on in their term when they appear physically plumper. However, thanks to our high-tech scanning equipment, we’ve been able to carry out ultrasounds which clearly show that two of our snakes are carrying eggs and are expecting young.

These ultrasound scans have now given us the best possible indicator of how far into a pregnancy the snakes are. It’s very useful information to have and helps with our preparations. For example, it means we can start prepping small fish for the young as tentacled snakes start hunting within just a few hours of being born.

The tentacled 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. It is found mainly across Thailand and southern Vietnam in stagnant or slow bodies of moving water, feeding exclusively on small fish.

The species can be seen 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.