File Snakes
Thursday 13th June 2013
File Snakes
Australian File Snake

Snakes are incredible animals.

  • They don’t have eyelids
  • Their jaws are so flexible that they can eat prey much larger than their head
  • And snakes actually have ears, it’s just that we can’t see them

However the Australian File Snake is different yet again.  

Not only can it hold its breath for 40 minutes, this snake can eat a whole fish (up to twice the size of its girth) in just 15 seconds.

It’s named after its file textured skin which helps it to hold its prey. Most water snakes predate on much smaller fish compared to their body size, which they latch on to with their teeth and gulp down in a few swallows, or use venom to still the prey. Instead this snake has corned the larger fish market, by coiling its body around the food and using its skin’s file grip so that the fish can’t get away.

Last week we caught up with Keeper Stuart during feed time. It’s difficult to believe that this shy snake could eat in such a hurry until you see it for yourself.

Of course our keepers never feed out animals live, so Stuart moves the food around, mimicking the movement of  live fish to get the attention of the snake.

This species of snake is not designed to be on land. They do venture through mangrove roots or rest on water banks, but they’d never be further away than a split second from water to easily get back to the safety of the environment they are designed for.

Stuart describes the snake as being like a wet rag when it’s out of water. They’ve evolved with the buoyancy of water to support them and hence have no muscle tone to push against gravity.

Next time you’re at the Zoo, visit our two Australian File at Reptile World (map reference xx).