Cerberus rynchops

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Cerberus rynchops
Cerberus rynchops Andamans.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Homalopsidae
Genus: Cerberus
C. rynchops
Binomial name
Cerberus rynchops
(Schneider, 1799)

Cerebrus rhynchops

The New Guinea bockadam or dog-faced water snake, Cerberus rynchops, is a mildly poisonous species of a colubrid snake native to coastal waters of Asia and Australia.[1]

It is commonly found in mangroves, mudflats, streams, ponds, tidal pools, on algae patches, and has even been found burrowing into the mud. It is rear-fanged and is mildly venomous. An aquatic and nocturnal snake, it feeds mainly on fish and is known to consume eels.

In captivity, it is observed to move in a sidewinding direction on land. In the BBC series 'Life in Cold Blood' it was filmed adapting this sidewinding technique to jump across a mudflat in Singapore; up until then, no snakes were considered able to truly jump. It also has a prehensile tail that would suggest it could climb mangrove trees. It is now known to give birth to live young, numbering from 8 to 30, either in water or on land.

It is a quite docile, mild-tempered and a hardy snake; in recent years it has become a welcome addition to snake hobbyists in the Philippines. It also owes its popularity to its bright yellow to orange belly coloring, mostly of females. In the Philippines, particularly in the Central Visayas area, this snake is commonly known as the "tangkig".



The visibility of upper jaw, giving it a dog-like appearance. Head long and distinct from neck. Eyes small and beady, with rounded pupils. Dorsum dark gray, with faint dark blotches and a dark line along the sides of the head, across the yes. Venter cream with two distinct rows of large, diffuse dark gray spots.

Scales are distinctly keeled. Midbody scale rows 21-25. Ventrals 132-160. Subcaudals 49-72.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Dog-faced Water Snake, Sundarban, India

This is a saltwater-tolerant species found in Australia (North Territory, Queensland, West Australia), New Guinea, Indonesia (Ambon, Babi, Bacan = Batjan, Bali, Bangka, Buru, Butung, Dolak, Enggano, Flores, Goram, Halmahera, Java, Kalimantan, Lombok, Mentawai Archipelago, Nako, Natuna Archipelago, Nias, Riau Archipelago, Roti, Sangihe Archipelago, Saparua, Seram, Simeulue, Singapore, Sulawesi, Sula Archipelago, Sumatra, Sumba, Sumbawa, Talaud Archipelago, Ternate, Timor, We, Western New Guinea, Wetar); Bangladesh, Cambodia, India (including Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Malaysia (Malaya and East Malaysia, including Pulau Tioman), Burma (Myanmar), Philippine Islands (including Palawan, Panay, Luzon), Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Race novaeguinea is found in Indonesia (western New Guinea). Type locality: "Ganjam" (Orissa State, SE India)


  1. ^ a b Murphy, J (2010). "Cerberus rynchops". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2010: e.T176680A7282653. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T176680A7282653.en. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  • Boulenger, George A. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, xviii, 541 pp.
  • Karns, D.R.; O'Bannon, A.; Voris,H.K. & Weigt, L.A. 2000. Biogeographical implications of mitochondrial DNA variation in the Bockadam snake (Cerberus rynchops, Serpentes, Homalopsinae) in Southeast Asia. J. Biogeography 27: 391–402
  • Schneider, J. G. 1799. Historiae Amphibiorum narturalis et literariae. Fasciculus primus, continens Ranas. Calamitas, Bufones, Salamandras et Hydros. Jena, 266 S.

External links[edit]