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Temporal range: 11.608–0 Ma Middle Miocene - present [1]
Arafura File Snake (Acrochordus arafurae) (8691271511).jpg
Acrochordus arafurae
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Superfamily: Acrochordoidea
Family: Acrochordidae
Bonaparte, 1831
Genus: Acrochordus
Hornstedt, 1787

The Acrochordidae, commonly known as wart snakes,[2] Java wart snakes,[3] file snakes, elephant trunk snakes, or dogface snakes are a monogeneric family[2] created for the genus Acrochordus. This is a group of basal aquatic snakes found in Australia and tropical Asia. Currently, three species are recognized.[3]


All are entirely aquatic, lacking the broad belly-scales found in most other snakes and possessing dorsally located eyes. Their most notable feature is their skin and scales. The skin is loose and baggy, giving the impression of being several sizes too large for the snake, and the scales, rather than overlapping, are tiny pyramidal projections that led to their common names.

These snakes are ambush predators, lurking at the bottom of rivers, streams and estuaries, and waiting for fish to approach, which they grip with their coils. The rough scales allow them to hold the fish despite the mucus coating. Adults grow to between 60 cm and 2.43 m in length.

Geographic range[edit]

Found from western India and Sri Lanka through tropical Southeast Asia to the Philippines, south through the Indonesian island group to Timor, east through New Guinea to the northern coast of Australia to Mussau Island, the Bismarck Archipelago and Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands.[4]

Commercial exploitation[edit]

These animals are rapidly becoming rare as their hides are used for handbags and leather (stripped of scales, of course). Numerous attempts have been made by both zoos and private reptile collectors to keep them, but in all cases, they have been reluctant to feed and prone to skin infections.


There are many synonyms for the family Acrochordidae including:[4] Acrochordina Bonaparte, 1831, Acrochordidae Bonaparte, 1840, Acrochorniens A.M.C. Duméril, 1853, Acrochordidae Jan, 1863, Acrochordinae Boulenger, 1893, Acrochordoidae McDowell, 1975, Acrochordini Dowling & Duellman, 1978

There are also many synonyms for the genera Acrochordus including:[4] Acrochordus Hornstedt, 1787, Chersydrus Cuvier, 1817, Chersidrus Oken, 1817, Acrochordus Gray, 1825, Chersydreas Gray, 1825, Chershydrus Bonaparte, 1831, Verrucator Schlegel, 1837, Chersydraeas Gray, 1849, Potamophis Schmidt, 1852, Chersydraeus Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854, Acrochordus Boulenger, 1893


Common name Scientific name IUCN Red List Status Distribution Picture
Arafura file snake[5] Acrochordus arafurae
McDowell, 1979
LC IUCN[6] New Guinea and northern Australia. Arafura file snake (Acrochordus arafurae) in captivity.jpg
Little wart snake[7] Acrochordus granulatus
(Schneider, 1799)
LC IUCN[8] Peninsular India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the Andaman Islands, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and coastal northern Australia. File snake (Acrochordus granulatus).jpg
Elephant trunk snake[9]
Javan file snake[9]
Acrochordus javanicus
Hornstedt, 1787
LC IUCN[10] Southeast Asia from Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, south through Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (Sumatra, Java and Borneo). AcrochordusJavanicusRooij.jpg


  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera (Reptilia entry)". Bulletins of American Paleontology. 364: 560. Archived from the original on 2007-08-02. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  2. ^ a b "Acrochordidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 16 August 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Acrochordus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 16 August 2007.
  4. ^ a b c McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  5. ^ Species Acrochordus arafurae at The Reptile Database. Accessed 16 August 2007.
  6. ^ Tallowin, O.; Parker, F.; O'Shea, M.; Cogger, H.; Vanderduys, E.; Amey, A.; Hoskin, C.; Couper, P. (2018). "Acrochordus arafurae". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T176764A21647516. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-1.RLTS.T176764A21647516.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  7. ^ Western Australian Reptile Species at Frank O'Connor's Birding Western Australia. Accessed 20 September 2007
  8. ^ Sanders, K.; Murphy, J.; Lobo, A.; Gatus, J. (2010). "Acrochordus granulatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2010: e.T176769A7300762. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T176769A7300762.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  9. ^ a b Species Acrochordus javanicus at The Reptile Database. Accessed 16 August 2007.
  10. ^ Sanders, K.; Grismer, L.; Chan-Ard, T. (2012). "Acrochordus javanicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012: e.T176718A1443749. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T176718A1443749.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.

External links[edit]