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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > Class Reptilia > shore snakes
Banded marine snakes
How to tell them apart?
updated Oct 2017

Banded confusion Both the Yellow-lipped sea snake and the Banded file snake are banded snakes with tapered tails that are sometimes encountered on our shores. Here's how to tell them apart.

The Banded file snake is harmless to humans, while the Yellow-lipped sea snake has a potent venom. But these snakes are generally shy and will not bite unless provoked. So just leave them alone.

Banded file snake
Acrochordus granulatus
Yellow-lipped sea snake
Laticauda colubrina
Bands are broad on top and narrow along the sides.
The skin is loose and hangs in folds,
with tiny granular scales.
Bands are the same width throughout.
The skin is not loose and it has large scales.
Small scales on the head
and does not have a yellow lip.
Large scales on the head
and has yellow lips.
Tail is tapered but not flattened. Tail is flattened into a paddle-like shape.

More comparisons


The Banded krait is not commonly seen. It has a black head and its tail is not flattened.

The Moray eel is a fish that
appears snake-like.

The Carpet eel-blenny also
appears snake-like.


The worm eel is a fish that
appears worm- or snake-like.

Peanut worms don't
move very fast either.

Ribbon worms can be very long.
They usually stay on the ground
and don't swim about very fast.

how to tell apart snakes and eels

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