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.
The visibility of upper jaw, giving it a dog-like appearance. Head long and distinct from neck. Eyes small and beadly, with rounded pupil. 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
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)
- 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.
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