> Subphylum Vertebrata > Class Reptilia > shore
seen? This beautiful snake is sometimes seen on our Southern
shores especially at night, hunting among reefs and coral rubble.
The snake is typically found in shallow seas around coral reefs and
rocky shores. Some
place them in Family Hydrophiidae.
According to Baker, in Singapore, it is only found on our Southern
Islands. It can crawl about on land (not helpless like other sea snakes).
It is widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific.
Features: To about 1.4m
long. Males are smaller (rarely more than 1m in length) while females
are heavier bodied and longer. Bluish-grey with distinct smooth scales
and regularly spaced, equal-sized black bands that circle the entire
body. Its upper lips are distinctly yellow, thus its common name.
Head slightly distinct from the body, but no obvious 'neck'. Its tail
is flattened sideways into a paddle-like shape and used like an oar
to swim with. At first glance, the tail and the head of this snake
look very similar. A
study suggests this may help protect the snake from its predators.
beauty: The snake
has a highly toxic venom that can be fatal to humans.
But it is a gentle and docile snake with tiny fangs. It
will not bite unless provoked. It is best to leave it
alone, although it is curious and may investigate you!
How to stay safe:
Wear covered shoes and long pants to cover all skin exposed
to water. Don't harass, touch or pick up the snake.
Sometimes confused with the harmless
Banded file snake (Acrochordus granulatus).
Here's how to tell apart banded snakes
seen near the coast. It may also be confused with eels. Here's more
on how to tell apart sea snakes,
eels and eel-like animals.
What does it eat? It eats fishes
and fish eggs. Eels are among their favourite prey. It has been seen
actively hunting at night on the shore even at low tide, probing the
coral rubble crevices for tit bits. It also comes ashore to rest,
digest its meal, shed its skin and to mate.
Sea snake babies: These snakes
generally breed on coral atolls and rocky islets where they may gather
in large groups to do so. The reef flat at Pulau Sudong used to be
a well known nesting ground for the snake until it was reclaimed.
The mother snake lays 5-9/7-13 eggs, in caves and grottos. The babies
look just like their parents.
Status and threats: Our sea snakes
are listed as 'Endangered' on the Red List of threatened animals of
Singapore. Like other creatures of the intertidal zone, they are affected
by human activities such as reclamation and pollution.
snakes, it sticks out its
tongue to sense its surroundings
Sisters Island, Dec 03
Head and tail can look similar
at first glance.
Sisters Island, Nov 03
snakes are curious but will not
bite if not provoked (that's my bootie!)
Pulau Semakau, Sep 05
Sisters Island, May 09
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on his
has a paddle-shaped tail.
Sentosa, Oct 03
sea kraits on Singapore shores
- Lim, Kelvin
K. P. & Francis L K Lim, 1992. A
Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Singapore
Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
- Baker, Nick
and Kelvin Lim. 2008. Wild
Animals of Singapore: A Photographic Guide to Mammals, Reptiles,
Amphibians and Freshwater Fishes
Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.
Robert B and Robert F. Inger. 1999. A
Field Guide to the Snakes of Borneo
Natural History Publications (Borneo). 254 pp.
- Cox, Merel
J., Peter Paul van Dijk, Jarujin Nabhitabhata and Kumthorn Thirakhupt.
Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Thailand, Peninsular
Malaysia and Singapore
New Holland. pp 144.
G.W. H. and P. K. L. Ng and Ho Hua Chew, 2008. The Singapore
Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore.
Nature Society (Singapore). 285 pp.
- Chou, L.
M., 1998. A
Guide to the Coral Reef Life of Singapore. Singapore Science
Centre. 128 pages.