Dog-faced Water Snake (Cerberus schneiderii)

Photo by Matthieu Berroneau

I know what you are thinking…why ‘dog-faced’? The name derives from its protruding eyes, which is unusual for snakes.

Native or Introduced

Native

Habitat

They are commonly found in mangroves. However, due to their shy nature and ability to camouflage into the mud, they are seldom spotted.

Natural Diet

Photos by Praveen Pandian

They consume mainly fishes such as mudskippers and gobies, crabs and frogs. They’ve been seen catching and swallowing rather large fishes. The prey is swallowed whole.

Territoriality

They are generally non-aggressive and inoffensive. They spend their daytime in crab holes.

Sociality

Information on Dog-faced Water Snake’s sociality is limited thus far.

Activity Pattern

They are more active at night. They feed on their food during this period.

Locations in Singapore where they are found

They are common along the coasts of Singapore, including Chek Jawa, Pasir Ris Park, Pulau Semakau, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

Photo by Ria Tan, Wild Singapore

Before we gooo…FUN FACT: The Dog-faced Water Snake is also unique as it gives birth to its young alive instead of laying eggs like other snakes.

References

https://www.nparks.gov.sg/biodiversity/wildlife-in-singapore/species-list/reptile

http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/vertebrates/snakes/cerberus.htm

https://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/snakes/dog-faced_water-snake.htm

https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/dna/organisms/details/721

https://www.nparks.gov.sg/mygreenspace/issue-39-vol-4-2018/conservation/creatures-of-the-wetlands

https://www.nparks.gov.sg/mygreenspace/issue-42-vol-3-2019/conservation/humble-natives-of-sungei-buloh-wetland-reserve

https://www.nparks.gov.sg/mygreenspace/issue-44-vol-1-2020/main-feature/awake-to-sungei-buloh-wetland-reserve

2 thoughts on “Dog-faced Water Snake (Cerberus schneiderii)

  1. Actually, the Dog-faced Water Snake is not that unique! To the surprise of many, plenty of snakes actually give birth to live young instead of laying eggs.

    These include Boas (like the Anacondas), Vipers (like our own Shore Pit Vipers) and sea snakes.

    To be fully accurate, though, they don’t give birth to live young exactly like how mammals do. Mammals are viviparous which means they produce actual, living young.

    On the other hand, animals who lay eggs like birds and most reptiles are called oviparous.

    On the other hand snakes like these hatch from eggs within the parent and develop inside their bodies until they reach a certain size and emerge. So it appears to be the same result, but the process is different! Since it sort of is a combination of oviparous and viviparous, snakes that “give birth” are called ovoviviparous!

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  2. Nice summary of this species’ characteristics! Also a good choice of images, clearly showing the snake’s side profile and how it consumes a big meal.

    Thanks Nasry for the clear explanation about the differences between viviparity, oviparity and ovoviviparity 🙂

    To clarify, Dog-faced Water Snakes (and other snakes from the homalopsid family) are considered viviparous – the young has a placental attachment that connects them to the mother’s bloodstream. Compared to ovoviviparous snakes (e.g. Vipers), in which there is no placental attachment between the young and its mother. So the young receives nourishment from an egg yolk.

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