Elephant Trunk Snake

The elephant trunk snake or Javan file snake is a species of primitive aquatic snakes with loose, baggy, and wrinkly skin that make them look like elephant trunks. The muscular, nocturnal carnivore can stay underwater for as long as 40 minutes at a stretch surfacing only to breathe in air for 15-20 seconds.

Scientific Classifications

  • Suborder:Serpentes
  • Family:Acrochordidae
  • Genus:Acrochordus
  • Species:A. javanicus

Conservation Status

Not EvaluatedNE

Not Evaluated

Data DeficientDD

Data Deficient

Least ConcernLC

Least Concern

Near ThreatenedNT

Near Threatened





Critically EndangeredCR

Critically Endangered

Extinct in the wildEW

Extinct in the wild





Full Size Elephant Trunk Snake

A full-size elephant trunk snake can reach a maximum length of 9.4 inches (2.4 m).

Color and Appearance

The snake’s dorsal side is brown, and its ventral side pale yellow. The loose and baggy skin, covered with small, rough adjacent scales, gives the impression of being much larger than the animal. It has no ventral scales, and the top of the head is covered with small granular scales. There are a total of 120 rows of scales in its stout body. The prehensile tail is short. The flat and broad head looks like that of a boa but it is only as wide as its body. The nostrils are placed atop its snout.

Are They Dangerous to Humans 

The snake is very shy and rarely aggressive. But when provoked, it may inflict grievous injuries, albeit being non-venomous. Its teeth often remain stuck to the victim’s flesh when it bites, creating a painful wound.

As a pet, the snake dislikes any form of human interaction, noise, movement, and too much light. It is prone to stress and can’t be handled. So it’s very difficult to acclimatize it to a domestic environment.

Elephant Trunk Snakes at a Glance


It is found in southeast Asia – the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula, southern Thailand, Borneo (Sarawak, Kalimantan), and a number of Indonesian islands like Java and Sumatra.


They live in coastal regions like estuaries, lagoons, and rivers, preferring freshwater and brackish areas.

Its body is fully adapted to live underwater and can’t support its weight outside water. So leaving water can seriously injure it.


The average lifespan of the Javan file snake in the wild is 5 years. In captivity, the same is 12-15 years.

Javan File Snake


It has no natural predators.Humans are their primary threat as they kill them for their meat and skin.


The ambush predator feeds on amphibians and fishes. It catches them by folding its body around the prey and preventing its escape with its loose skin and sharp scales.


Ovoviviparous (gives birth to live young from eggs that hatch inside the body)

Baby Elephant Trunk Snake

The incubation lasts for 5-6 months for this snake, with the females giving birth to 6-17 young at a time. 

Care Sheet

It is challenging to keep this snake as a pet, and caretakers need advanced experience.

Size of the Enclosure: Smaller specimens up to 20 inches can be kept in 10-15 gallon tanks. The larger ones require a tank size of up to 150 gallons or even more. The enclosure should have ample hiding places and a secure lid since the snake tries to escape. The water of pH 5-7 should fill up half of the aquarium.

Acrochordus javanicus

Temperature: A temperature range of 84-86°F is ideal for the elephant trunk snake. It can be achieved by fitting the tank with a submersible heater. A hotter basking area of 88-90°F should be provided using cork bark that can float.

Substrate: A soft sand and gravel substrate best replicates its natural habitat, but it is not necessary as it’s very tough to clean.


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