Elephant Trunk Snake: Care Guide & Species Profile

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The elephant trunk snake (Acrochordus javanicus) is a non-venomous aquatic snake found in Asia and Australia. The snake is mostly found around the seaside. Elephant trunk snakes may reach a length of eight feet and are known for their loose skin and elephant trunk-like appearance.

Elephant trunk snakes require a lot of attention. They are prone to stress and are uncontrollable. Because most trunk snakes are collected in the wild, acclimating them can be difficult. The difficulties will be rewarded by experienced snake keepers.

Elephant Trunk Snake Overview

Scientific Name: – Acrochordus javanicus

Common Name: – Elephant trunk snake, Javan file snake

Natural Habitat: – Warm freshwater, blackwater, Coastal areas, brackish

Average Lifespan: – 5 years

Adult Size: – Up to 8 ft

Diet: – Carnivore

Housing: – Foliage, sandy substrate, Aquarium, hiding spots

Experience Level: – Advanced


The elephant trunk snake (Acrochordus javanicus) is a species found in Asia and Australia. This aquatic snake is found along the shore and thrives in warm, brackish water.

Elephant trunk snakes are usually found in blackwater habitats and thrive in shallow water where they may locate food and refuge more easily. These snakes seldom go into deep water, yet they can stay underwater for up to 40 minutes.

Elephant trunk snakes are hunted in the wild by hunters. They are prized for their skin and flesh. The snake’s population has declined due to habitat destruction. Wild elephant trunk snakes, on the other hand, are still common. These snakes are not considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Behavior and Appearance

Elephant Trunk Snake information

Elephant trunk snakes are brown in colour with a pale yellow ventral stripe (belly). An elephant trunk snake’s skin is loose, baggy, and wrinkled. The scales are sand-like and tiny. A triangular ridge runs through each scale.

Elephant trunk snakes are muscular and have a short tail. Their body is the same breadth as their head, which is large and snouted. The snake’s eyes and nostrils are located on top of its head. The elephant trunk snake gets its name from the form of its body, which resembles an elephant trunk.

Elephant trunk snakes exhibit sexual dimorphism. Female elephant trunk snakes are longer and bigger than male elephant trunk snakes. Males are considerably thinner and less well-built than females.

Almost all elephant trunk snakes are collected in the wild, and they frequently have white spot fungus on their skin. If the water parameters are acceptable and the snake is not stressed, the fungus will vanish after shedding. Elephant trunk snakes lose their skin around once every several months. As the snakes get more used to their surroundings, they shed less regularly.

Lifespan and Size

Male elephant trunk snakes may reach lengths of up to five feet. Female trunk snakes are often twice the size of males and can reach lengths of up to eight feet. These snakes have a four-year average lifetime in the wild and can survive up to five years in captivity. Elephant trunk snakes often weigh from six and twenty-two pounds.


Elephant trunk snakes are timid and rarely attack humans. These snakes are easily stressed. Avoid dealing with elephant trunk snakes by keeping noise and movement to a minimum. Elephant trunk snakes should be kept in separate enclosures. This will make each snake feel more safe and at ease when feeding.

The baggy skin of an elephant trunk snake helps it to catch food and travel fast through water. These snakes are active at night. Elephant trunk snakes are foragers and ambush hunters. An elephant trunk snake can submerge itself for 40 minutes. When it wants to breathe, it will surface and force its nostrils into the air for 15 to 20 seconds.

Handling these snakes should be avoided. Because of the tremendous stress involved, handling can be harmful to the elephant trunk snake’s well-being and health. Elephant trunk snakes will bite if they are agitated. Bite injuries can be severe because the snake’s fangs can break off and become lodged in human tissue.

Elephant Trunk Snakes Housing

Elephant trunk snakes can be seen in the wild in coastal locations. These snakes flourish in brackish blackwater that is densely vegetated and has plenty of hiding places. Housing should be designed to resemble the snake’s natural environment.

Elephant trunk snakes necessitate the use of an aquarium. They are an aquatic species and cannot live in the absence of water for lengthy periods of time. Hideouts, vegetation, and leaf litter should all be present in the tank. Elephant trunk snakes will try to escape if the tank’s lid is not tight.

Enclosure size

A 150-gallon aquarium or greater is required for adult elephant trunk snakes. This size gives the snake plenty of room to move around and stretch out. In a 15 to 30-gallon tank, keep juvenile elephant trunk snakes (up to 20 inches). The water should fill about half of the tank.


Excessive light exposure might lead these snakes to become drowsy or anxious. Elephant trunk snakes are nocturnal and spend the most of their time hidden. To assist the snakes maintain their circadian rhythm, a low-level UV lamp that replicates a natural day-night cycle is required. A minimum of 12 hours of light every day is recommended. In the correct season and place, indirect natural sunlight can be effective.

Water Quality and Temperature

Elephant trunk snakes prefer temperatures ranging from 84 to 86°F. To keep a consistent temperature, use a heater. Temperature fluctuations can induce illness and discomfort in these snakes. Check the water temperature on a regular basis to ensure that it remains at the proper degree.

Snake keepers should create a thermogradient in their tank, with a hotter basking region. A temperature of 88 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit is good for basking.

Elephant trunk snakes prefer brackish water with a pH of 5 to 7.0. To produce a blackwater habitat, use dried leaf litter. These leaves will leak tannins into the water, discolouring it and making it acidic. Every two weeks, replace the leaf litter.

Check that the filter can manage the bioload (waste) while without generating significant currents. Elephant trunk snakes thrive in slow-moving, shallow water. Decorations can aid in dispersing the flow. Internal filters with high vibrations should be avoided. Vibrations might stress the snake and make its hunting procedure more difficult.

Decoration and Substrat

Elephant trunk snakes are solitary creatures who seek hiding places to feel comfortable and secure. Create a variety of hides throughout the tank. Make your own hides out of logs, driftwood, ceramic pots, caverns, and greenery.

Make certain that your decorations are hefty, fastened, or have a weighted foundation. Elephant trunk snakes are powerful enough to remove lightweight ornaments. Mopani wood is a good choice. This wood is dense, does not float, and emits tannins into the water.

Make a basking place out of cork bark in the hotter zone. This bark will float, giving a surface for the snake to bask on. Cork bark will leach tannins into the water while also acting as a barrier. Floating hornwort is very effective for top covering.

Elephant trunk snakes are capable of uprooting living plants. Plants must be tied or secured. A substrate is not required. The elephant trunk snake’s native environment is best replicated by a soft, sand floor, but it can be difficult to clean.

A secure screen top is required for the aquarium. Elephant trunk snakes are well-known escape artists.


Maintain cleanliness by performing a weekly partial water change (15% to 25%). Every several weeks, replace the leaf litter, vacuum the substrate, and clean the canister filter. Remove unclean decorations and, if required, rinse them with a disinfectant solution. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, scrub off any trapped dirt or debris.

Before beginning the cleaning process, wash your hands and arms. Keepers of elephant trunk snakes should avoid upsetting them during cleaning or water changes. Before cleaning, wait till the snake has gone into hiding.

Elephant Trunk Snake Care

Elephant trunk snakes need a lot of attention. These snakes are vulnerable to stress and health problems, particularly white spot fungus. The vast majority of elephant trunk snakes in the trade are wild-caught and struggle to adjust to life in captivity.

Elephant trunk snakes flourish in a blackwater habitat with plenty of hiding places and top cover. An elephant trunk snake’s food consists of live fish and amphibians. These snakes must not be touched. Handling may be stressful or injurious.


In the wild, elephant trunk snakes are carnivores that consume frogs and fish. Feeding these snakes might be expensive. Elephant trunk snakes have voracious appetites and will need to be fed mostly live fish. Feed your snake live amphibians such as frogs on a regular basis.

Tilapia is an excellent food source for elephant trunk snakes. These fish are incredibly healthy, inexpensive, and widely available in most local fish markets. Guppies, mollies, huge bullfrog tadpoles, and convicted cichlids are among the other feeds. Rosy red minnows are abundantly accessible and good for elephant trunk snakes, however, they are not as nutritious as other fish. Fry should be served to juvenile elephant trunk snakes.

Make sure there is a steady supply of live feeder fish. Initially, add 10 to 12 fish. When there are fewer than four fish remaining in the aquarium, top it up. Young elephant trunk snakes consume one to two fish per week, and adults consume up to four fish per week. Feeder fish must be of suitable size for the snake. These fish should be smaller than the body width of an elephant trunk snake. Because of their loose skin, elephant trunk snakes do not bulk up after a meal.

Elephant trunk snakes prowl during the night. These snakes ambush their victim before wrapping their bodies around it to catch it. These snakes aren’t used to feeding in close proximity to people and may be hesitant to eat if they’re feeling bashful or anxious. After placing the feeder fish in the aquarium, leave immediately.

Common Health Issues

Elephant trunk snakes are prone to a variety of health problems. Many snakes perish in captivity. White spot fungus, which forms little white spots on the snake’s skin, is the most prevalent health concern for elephant trunk snakes.

This form of fungus is not adequately targeted by all commercial fungal therapies. The most dependable long-term therapy is to keep water conditions consistent and acceptable. Elephant trunk snakes should avoid stressful circumstances since stress may promote white spot fungus.

When the elephant trunk snake sheds, the white spot fungus will go. To keep the white spots from reappearing, proper care and treatment are required.


Elephant trunk snake captive breeding is essentially non-existent in the United States. Any breeding that occurs is done with wild-caught gravid females.

Elephant trunk snakes are ovoviviparous (egg-bearing). Inside the snake, eggs mature and hatch, and the young are born alive. Incubation takes around a half-year on average. Females have six to seventeen offspring.

Buying and Choosing an Elephant Trunk Snake

Elephant trunk snakes range in price from $80 to $150, however, they are difficult to locate. These snakes may sometimes be seen at specialized reptile shops. Almost all elephant trunk snakes are imported, where they are subjected to stress and poor water conditions.

A sick elephant trunk snake will be sluggish, have a loss of appetite, and have white spot fungus on its skin. Because of their aquatic nature and high care needs, these snakes are only appropriate for experienced snake keepers.

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