This Caresheet is based upon 34 yrs Herping experience, the
Available Literature, Conversations with Successful Keepers and My Experience
with these animals. As I learn and grow while working with these Homalopsis--the
information here may change.
I acquired a small colony of wild-caught recently imported Homalopsis buccata. I currently have them housed together
in 3 separate containers and they are doing very well.
Be sure to click the links within the text below for pix and added
Homalopsis buccata snakes are generally very hardy snakes that are not
difficult to keep. However, their needs are somewhat specialized compared to the
husbandry of most types of water snakes. Like the Chinese watersnakes, these are
very aquatic. Unlike most types of water snakes - These guys really love the water.
They live in conditions that are water and 100% humidity. They don't develop the
dreaded "water blisters" that most other water snakes do.
These snakes stay in the water until the water temps start reaching 89-90F
(31.6-32.2C) Their feeding is down right voracious.
Below is a basic explanation of the way they have been housed my care.
Plants and Top-Coverage
I always recommend Live plants for aquatic setups. However,
these snake are currently setup Fish-only style. They are provided with
top-coverage via the cork bark, which also doubles as a land area.
These snakes are housed in three large tubs (39"x18"x7")
which are run through a single filtration system. The top has been
modified to allow for ventilation, a hot spot and a cool spot. One tub has
been modified for the canister filter
This setup is ~65gal total water and is currently filtered with a Rena Filstar xP2
canister filter and a 30gal sump. The sump contains a 29gal undergravel filter with a
2 penguin 1140 (300gph)
forward-flow powerhead setup, a Quiet One 3000 return pump with dual
pre-filter sponges and a 3rd penguin 1140 powerhead that operates a 4
Hydor #5 sponge filter inside.
I currently use 100% hard tap water (Gh18, Kh14, pH
7.5-7.7, TDS ~300ppm) and do 1-2x 40% water changes per week. TDSs
range from about 280ppm after a water change to ~360ppm before. The snakes
seem very happy with this setup. I add Kent Marine's Zoe for vitamin
supplement and Black Water Expert and Botanica Humic for tannins and humic
acids at every water change. See Old Setup for previous
The water temperature varies in this setup
from a low of 82F (27.7C) to a high of ~89F(31.6C). When the water starts
reaching 89-90F (31.6-32.2C) the snakes start getting out of the water.
They really seem to enjoy water temps in the 82-86F (27.7-30C) range.
Under the hot spot are 1 or more pieces of cork bark for
them to hide under or bask on top of. Generally these snakes do not seem
to use the hot spot very much at all. Apparently they like lower temps in
In their natural environment the photoperiod
is 12 hrs of daylight and 12 hrs of darkness. I am currently giving these
Puff - Faced Watersnakes 12hrs of light,/12 hrs of Darkness.
Unlike Acrochordus snakes, Homalopsinae snakes don't seem to mind bright
light at all. Currently they only recieve ambient light and a 60w hot
spot dimmed to ~35w. They seem very content.
These snakes are very aquatic. They love the
water. Currently, they are housed in water ~3- 4" deep.
I just use standard white aquarium gravel
over an undergravel filter in the sump. In the main containers I currently do not
have any substrate. I plan to add a thin (~1")
layer of (probably) Flourite for appearance, contact security and mulm
These snakes are voracious feeders. I feed them both
individually and by just placing fish in the water. I feed the fish both dead
(including F/T) and alive. The snakes don't seem to care--they just
love to eat. I have fed them minnows, shiners and lg comets. I have recently
gone to feeding F/T raw
catfish fillets and nuggets. The long-term Homalopsis buccata took to
the fillets pretty quickly. Some scenting with F/T minnows was necessary,
but it didn't take much to get them switched over. The newer Homalopsis
buccata are mixed in their response to the F/T catfish fillets even with
minnow scenting. I don't expect any problems getting them switched over
though. I do and will continue to offer whole fish for more complete
Puff - Faced water snakes are a lot like most
"Watersnakes". They can tolerate handling. I rarely handle these
Homalopsis buccata, because I really do not see the need. Everything
that I need to do can be done with them in the setup and a little care. I have
handled them and
overall they accept handling very well. However, these snakes, like the
Chinese watersnakes, do seem a bit "Soft-bodied". Its not hard to tell that
they live a very buoyant lifestyle.
(all 9 of them) have not been aggressive at all. I really
am truly amazed. Figuring that they are A) water snakes and B) Asian water
snakes--I assumed they would show some aggression--at
least initially. Nope. Not one bit of aggression from any of them.
I do not understand clearly at this point how the reproductive
cycle of these snakes works. However, they are a nuisance in their native
lands. According to field studies--they don't have a reproductive season. They
produce off-spring year-round with an Oct-Mar peak period, and Nov-Dec being
the top of the peak. I will update this section as I get further
down the road in this area. I just need to do some more research. However,
from what I have learned--I don't think they will be very difficult to breed
This Caresheet is offered on the Puff - Faced water
snake - Homalopsis buccata as is. This Caresheet is not offered in reference to any
snake other than the Puff - Faced water snake - Homalopsis buccata and even so--use
at You Own Risk!
This general information should be transferable to one or more other
species, but I offer no guarantees of any kind.
Additionally, this caresheet is obviously based upon admittedly limited
experience! It is not intend to be a recipe of do this, do this, do
this---Bam! You have a cake. It's intent is to offer more of a conceptual
understanding of these fascinating creatures and their apparent needs both in
the wild and in captivity.