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Tentacle Snake Erpeton tentaculatum

Discussion in 'MFK Articles' started by PeacockBass, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. PeacockBass

    PeacockBass
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    Erpeton tentaculatum
    Tentacle Snake

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    The tentacle snake is a fully aquatic reptile. I Have been searching for these snakes for a couple years now. I had mentioned them to Jon Rare and he said he could get them in, so naturally I told him I wanted a few. Sure enough with in a couple weeks he got them in and sent me two.

    To be honest there really isn't much information out there on these snakes, and what little information you actually DO find is mostly conflicting. Some sources say these snakes are hard to kill, other sources say they are hard to keep alive. This is one of the reason why I wanted to get a couple.

    I first came into contact with these snakes back in 02 when I took a trip to the local zoo. They have a breeding colony of around 5 or so in a smaller, around 30 gallons, terrarium set up. I must have sat at the glass for a good 2 hours watching these snakes. they did not move much, just go up for air then back down into their "J" position. I had been wondering if they basked, because their tank had a lot of land and a basking light. I took a closer look at their skin and realized they were harboring algae. Quickly after realizing this, my mind started racing with unanswered questions. What type of algae? Does the algae come off with the skin when the snakes shed? Do these snakes shed like normal terrestrial snakes? Does the algae harm the snake? How does the algae live on the skin if they come out of the water to dry out and bask? Do the snakes benefit from the algae? Does the algae benefit from the snakes? My mind was exploding with questions. That 2 hours of observation sparked my interest in these animals. Unfortunatly It was a few years before I actually got my hands on them.

    The snakes where shipped the day they came in. They arrived in a little plastic container with wet moss and a little bit of water the next day at my door step.

    [​IMG]

    I quickly opened the container and felt the moss/water to get a feeling for the temperature. They where cold and needed some acclimation. I quickly took a cup of tank water and added it to their little container. After 20-30 minutes of slowly bringing the temperature up I gently grabbed one and added it into the tank. The snake quickly swam into the bushes and remained motionless. I added the second one and then shut the lid and turned off the light. Both of them were around 15 or so inches.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The tank is 20gallons with a small submersible filter and submersible heater. The tank is kept at 83-84*F. The PH is around 7.8 which is said to be way to high for these snakes. I have read that these snakes will develop fungus, blisters, red patches, and other skin problems when kept in a higher PH. Although, I hypothesize that the low PH these snakes where kept in was the reason for their problems. People suggest a PH of 5.6-6.5 to be required. This IMO is way to low considering that blisters and red patches are a common symptom of acid burn in fish. The same scenario is probably true with these snakes. The fungus however would be attributed to poor water quality and lack of proper water changes.

    The tank has many plants for hide-outs and places to "anchoring" themselves down. I keep the light on for around 12-15 hours a day to sustain a large colony of algae within the tank and on the skin of the snakes. It is very important to keep the water stagnant, the snakes seem to be stressed out and unable to control their balance if there is current. So minimal flow is required. I leave around 1-2 inches of air within the tank to allow them to stick their entire head out of the water to breath. I also open the lid to allow fresh air to circulate in. The tank needs to be well covered, these snakes are thin and could easily fit out of any small crevice left open. I taped the back of the tank to completely seal the lid on with no holes. Their lighting should have a high UVB rating, this is extremely beneficial to reptiles.

    With in 1 hour of introduction the snakes had already anchored themselves down and formed their trademark hunting position. The “J”. This particular way of hunting is not really efficient, although it gets the job done. The snake anchors its self down with is prehensile tail, sticks its body out into an open area and forms a J like strike position with its neck and head.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see in the picture the bright red area is their most effective range while the darker red is still decent but not as good and the blue is pretty much a misfire. Once I noticed the “J” I quickly added a few goldfish and witnessed my first couple feedings.

    These snakes eat live foods, although I have not tried getting them to accept other food types. I am sure I could hand feed them pieces of shrimp but this wont be nutritious enough. They are a reptile and require a decent amount of calcium and other vitamins/minerals, so feeding whole fish is best. I just started feeding my snakes Rosie Reds instead of normal gold fish. Goldfish have a thiamine enzyme that will create a deficiency of V-B1. Rosie Reds or other alike minnows should be fed instead to ensure a healthy snake.There is really no information on what the feeding schedule should be so it was/is just guess and check. I feed a couple feeders every other day. The snakes tend to stay plump and active (well, active for tentacle snakes. hehe) on this feeding regime. Dont be afraid to feed these snakes a larger sized fish, they can unlock their jaws and swallow large prey items. Its really amazing how fast they will down a fish once they have got ahold of it. They have a mild venom that will stun/shock the fish. It is harmless to humans and just itches a little. So don't worry to much about being bitten.

    The growth rate of these snakes is unknown to me. Although sites say the average max size is anywhere from 24-30 inches. They give birth to live young and the gestation period is unknown to me. Sexing these snakes is also unknown to me, although there seems to be 2 color forms. A dark brown and a orangish brown. I would assume this to be the difference in sex, although I cannot be sure.

    You can see this is the darker brown
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    And this is the lighter orangish brown.
    [​IMG]

    Water changes should be done often to ensure a clean environment. I usually do a water change ever week or so, around 50-60% of the water is replaced with clean, dechlorinated water. These animals are quite messy and will foul the gravel up easily, so gravel vacuuming is required.

    The snakes started growing algae within a couple weeks. The common brown algae is the most common I see on them. The rest is a small green hairlike algae. One of the snakes has shed already within my care, the algae had to re grow on the fresh skin. The shed skin should be removed quickly. It will foul the water and cause a hazardous water condition. The snakes share a symbiotic relationship with the algae. The algae protects the snakes from fungus infections by taking up the surface area on their skin, and in return the snakes give the algae a place to grow that wont be washed down stream or sink to deep. I have talked to a few keepers who said their snakes did not bask. If they did in fact bask the algae would have a hard time growing on their skin because the heat lamp would dry it completely out. So that ruled out the questions I had on basking.

    These snakes are really great animals. I highly recommend these animals to the experienced keeper looking for something new and something weird. I will be writing up a Part 2 article within a few months to update everyone with new findings and experiences.

    [​IMG]

    ~PeacockBass
     
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  2. dragoneel2009

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    Are the snake venomous
     
  3. iheartfishies

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    Im Angie

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    I absolutely love this Neal!!!!
    Great work. :thumbsup:
     
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  4. piranha45

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    He wrote it like 6 months ago, I'm sure he's very glad you barely decided to tell him about it now.
     
  5. mpgleisten

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    great research neal
     
  6. Gooda

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    That is super cool. What is their native habitat? and would you think that a more neutral ph of 6.8 -6.9 would be good for these snakes? Lastly what temp do you keep them at?
     
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  7. repair

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    I'm verry impressed with the way you have presented your research. Very nice :thumbsup:
     
  8. Xite

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    Great work :)
    I want one, but they are quite hard to get here in Sweden :/

    //Dan
     
  9. Zorro

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    wow thats cool
     
  10. shekes

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    Jessica Rabbit

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    I'd like an update. How are the snakes? What have you learned?
     
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