Caresheet on how to keep these
The Tentacled snake – Erpeton tentaculatum is found from Thailand eastwards through Cambodia ( Kampuchea ) to Vietnam. Some reports have mentioned that they are also found in Malaysia, however some people I have spoken to in Malaysia have stated that they have not seen or heard of them from Peninsular Malaysia. They inhabit still or slow moving watercourses in these countries. Other common names include “Fishing snake” & “Arowana snake” alluding to the 2 appendages on the underside of the Arowana’s mouth. These snakes reach a size of approximately 1 metre in length.
I have tried twice on keeping these snakes with the first lot being kept for approximately one year. These were kept in an 18” tank with aquarium gravel & some plants of the genus Cryptocoryne. I initially had a small box filter to provide some water movement but removed it. This was done on the thinking that the plants would take up all the mulm & feces as fertilizer.
The current 2 ( 0.0.2 WC ) both about 18 to 20” long have been with me for just over 2 years now, I obtained them in September 2006. I originally had 4 but 2 had crawled out & were found dead on the floor. When I first got them they were housed in a 48” x 20” x 20” aquarium with aquarium gravel, plants( Crypt’s & ambulia ) & some drift ( bog ) wood including one big root (which I suspect they used to crawl out) to provide something for the snakes to anchor to . The water level was approx. 8” I did not provide any land area as all the information states that they are purely aquatic. Filtration used was an overhead “box” filter which was fed from a powerhead. The snakes did well for me with these conditions, but upon testing the water with an electronic pH monitor I found the water – to my disbelief was pH 9 or more. I believe this may be part of the reason why the plants did not grow.
The above tank was dismantled & the snakes were placed in another tank with the same dimensions. This time I did not put any substrate & just 2 pieces of wood. I now use bottled water which is held in a container with some leaves of the
tropical almond tree ( Terminalia catappa ). The leaves of this tree are also used to keep other brown water loving fish in South East Asia. The snakes don’t move much, but lie in a “J” position with their tails wrapped around a piece of timber waiting for a prey fish to come within range.
Although I don’t have a planted tank this is mainly due to water quality in the area where the snakes are kept. One day I may go back to a planted tank as the area’s where these snakes are found does include aquatic vegetation.
As I live in the tropics I don’t employ any heat as the water remains around the 28 to 30C mark & drops down by a couple of degrees at night or during the cooler months.
Filtration consists of a small internal corner box filter that comes complete with filter wool that is already impregnated with carbon. As it is cheap it can be thrown away after a certain period of time or a sponge filter.
Water changes of around 30 to 50% are done weekly by siphoning the mulm off the bottom & a virtual complete water change is done twice a year.
Lighting consists of 1 x 40watt fluoro tube which seems to be sufficient as there are no plants in the tank.
I have never had any trouble feeding my animals & in one instance had them in a bucket for 2 days along with 6 Bettas
which I bought as food. When the time came to move them to their new home there were only 2 fish left.
Feeder fish comprise of Bettas, juvenile Channas ( snakeheads ) & other Anabantids ( Labyrinth fish ) as these fish inhabit the same areas as the snakes, ie water courses with low oxygen levels. These fish are readily available for sale cheaply in SEA. I assume that they would be the normal prey of Tentacled snakes as they are slow moving fish & the snakes themselves are not active predators, but wait for their prey to come within range before they strike. Some sources state that the snakes eat shrimp, but I would be hesitant to feed them as the barbed spike on the head could damage the inside of the snakes mouth.
I don’t feed any form of goldfish to my snakes due to reports of goldfish containing Thiaminase which breaks down Thiamin. Also Bettas, Channas etc are cheaper & more readily available.
I don’t handle my snakes as I find they become very agitated & will thrash around wanting to escape. Even though they are classified as rear fanged mine have made no attempt to bite and what reports are available state that the venom is “prey specific”, but this does not mean that one should allow them to bite as the venom may cause an allergic reaction in some people.
I have not bred mine & possibly they may not be of breedable age yet or even a pair. Although there are reports of people & zoos breeding them I have not been able to locate procedures or conditions to do so.
In other articles on these snakes people state that the tail will twitch when
feeding. I have also noticed this to happen. As stated in “Housing”, I only use a small box filter. I have found that these snakes do not like too much water movement & will become agitated if there is. When I obtained these they were kept in a bucket for 2 days prior to being introduced to their new home. As there was no water movement the snakes just laid there. However,
once the bucket was in the moving vehicle they became stressed & tried to crawl
up the bucket to escape.
There seems to be 2 forms of these snakes. One is a dark “charcoal” or grayish
in color & the body is more cylindrical. The second is a beige color with a few
horizontal stripes & the body is shaped more like a rectangle. This is not just
a “once of” observation, but I have seen numerous specimens of both. Both forms
do however have the well known trade mark, i.e. the 2 appendages or tentacles on
the snout. The above information is based on my own observations of these
animals. They may correspond with other peoples observations as well. Apart from
the 2 references stated below there are odd bit’s of information on other
websites – unfortunately nowhere near what there is on other snake species which
is a pity as they are a very interesting snake to keep & observe. If anyone has
bred them I would very much like to hear what conditions were used & also what
the difference in sex is between male & female (I presume it is the difference
in the tail)
The same article appears in another forum
Caresheet provided by Bob Cowen, Thailand. Thank You for Sharing Bob!