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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Long-tailed Mud Snake

Species : Enhydris longicauda
Maximum Size : 
Females to 80 cm, males to 67 cm (Murphy, 2007)

Enhydris longicauda (Long-tailed Mud Snake) is one of Cambodia's endemic snakes; it is only known to occur in the vast seasonal lake of Tonl Sap and its immediate surrounds, which comprise part of the Mekong River system.

It is almost entirely aquatic in habits, and it must contend with the seasonal expansion of the lake, whose margins expand many kilometres into neighbouring land during the latter part of the rainy season, particularly in September and October.

The diet of Enhydris longicauda is known to include the Three-spot Gouramy (Trichopodus trichopterus) (Voris & Murphy, 2002).

This species is exploited as a food source; it is trapped in huge numbers, along with other mud/water snakes, to feed local people and, reportedly, farmed crocodiles. A study in November 2019 concluded that of eight snakes occurring in Tonl Sap this was the species most unintentionally trapped by local fishermen. Other bycatch included the Rainbow Water Snake (Enhydris enhydris)  (English, 2022).

The specific name 'longicauda' refers to its relatively long tail, when compared to the shorter tails of other homalopsines. Tail length is around 23-35% of snout-to-vent length. (Murphy, 2007) 

Its dorsal surface is mottled blackish-brown and medium brown. Its ventral surface is black, sometimes with yellow blotches; the black colour extends onto the flanks in a regular series of dark patches.

Its head is somewhat depressed, and its small eyes are located towards the top of the skull. Its snout is rounded.

Figs 1 and 2 : Typical examples harvested from Tonl Sap in January 2024.  Photos thanks to Derek Clark.

Figs 3 and 4 : Two views of the margin and flooded hinterland of Tonl Sap taken in September 2015, in the latter part of the rainy season.

References : H12

English, M., Winters, K., Lasater, M., Dainty, M., Meyerhoff, M., & Wagner, P. (2022). A dry season glimpse of watersnake. Cambodian Journal of Natural History, 38.

Murphy, J. C. (2007). Homalopsid Snakes. Evolution in the Mud (Kreiger, Melbourne, FL). 250 pp.

Voris, H. K., & Murphy, J. C. (2002). The prey and predators of homalopsine snakes. Journal of Natural History, 36(13), 1621-1632.

Links :

Wikipedia - Tonl Sap




Fig 1
ゥ  Derek Clark
Fig 2
ゥ  Derek Clark
Fig 3
Fig 4