Habitat: northern Australia and New Guinea
Status: Least Concern
This odd creature is called the Elephant Trunk Snake (Acrochordus arafurae) – and for very good reason! It really does look just like an elephant’s truck; you know, except for the fact that it’s a got a forked tongue and lives underwater (among other things). It’s a primitive, non-venemous aquatic snake species and there are 3 recognized species within the Acrochordidae family.
It’s thick, baggy skin looks like it’s almost too big for the snake itself. Females grow larger than males and the maximum size of an individual can reach 8.25 ft (2.5 m) in length! If you notice (click the photo above to enlarge), the snake has a very interesting texture to it, too. Rather than overlapping one another as regular scales would, these are almost like tiny pyramidal projections with sharp points that aid the snake in catching its food.
Elephant Trunk Snakes are ambush predators, meaning they will lie in wait until something delicious swims within its reach. When it finds a fish suitable for a meal, the snake will wrap its body around it very tightly, using the scales to act like grips which dig into the fish’s skin. Even the squirmiest, slipperiest of fish (even those covered in a protective mucous coating) can’t escape from that!
Most of the snake’s time is spent underwater. It can remain under without taking a breathe for up to 40 minutes! Pretty impressive, I’d say. Unfortunately for the snake, it really is a “fish out of water” when it comes to living on land. The indigineous peoples of New Guinea take advantage of this fact by harvesting the commonly found snakes for their rough skin – which they use to make drums. Once they catch a snake, they will simply toss it on the riverbank and continue looking for other ones. The first one isn’t going to get too far with its awkward, baggy body.
Poor slow and awkward elephant trunk snake. Stick to the water, babe.
Here’s some footage of another elephant trunk species, Acrochordus javanicus.