Other common names
Elephant Trunk Snake, Wartsnake
Adult Javan File Snakes in Sumatra, Indonesia average 46 inches (118 cm) for males and 53 inches (135 cm) for females in snout-vent length, but they can reach 9.5 feet (290 cm) in total length. These are large snakes with dark brown backs and cream-colored sides and bellies. These snakes have loose, baggy skin that feels rough like course sandpaper due to the large hook-like keels on each scale. The eyes and nostrils are positioned on top of the head, which is covered in tiny scales. Juvenile color pattern is similar to that of adults.
Javan File Snakes are a non-native species from Southeast Asia that appear to have been established in Florida since the 1970s. Although they have been introduced to a few areas in Florida, they are were thought to be established and breeding only in an artificial rock pit at Jones Trailer Park in northern Miami-Dade County. However, trapping efforts at this locality in 2003 were unsuccessful and no trapping has been conducted since, so the status of this population is currently unknown.
Assessment of risk to people and pets
Non-venomous. Javan File Snakes are not dangerous to people or pets.
Comparison with other species
Adult Javan File Snakes in Sumatra, Indonesia average 46 inches (118 cm) for males and 53 inches (135 cm) for females in snout-vent length, with a maximum total length of about 9.5 feet (290 cm). These are large snakes with dark brown backs and cream-colored sides and bellies. These snakes have loose, baggy skin that feels rough like course sandpaper due to the large hook-like keels on each scale. The eyes and nostrils are positioned on top of the head, which is covered in tiny scales. Juvenile color pattern is similar to that of adults.
Javan File Snakes are fully aquatic and typically inhabit slow-moving waters such as streams, lakes, lagoons, swamps, and estuaries.
These docile snakes do not bite in defense. Javan File Snakes are nocturnal (active at night) and typically remain underwater and hidden in burrows or under debris during the day to avoid detection. If approached in shallow water, they will typically swim away and hide at the bottom.
Javan File Snakes are known to feed primarily on fishes, but they will also eat amphibians. These snakes are not constrictors, but they do wrap coils of the body around their prey to contain it so it can be quickly swallowed. Their baggy skin and extremely keeled scales help them to grip their slippery prey and prevent it from escaping.
The sizes of litters in Florida is not known. However, females in Sumatra, Indonesia give live birth to 13-52 young measuring 11-14 inches (28-36 cm) in snout-vent length.
If you have a new or interesting observation for this species, please email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum.
Krysko, K.L., K.M. Enge, and P.E. Moler. 2019. Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, Florida. 706 pp.
Powell, R., R. Conant, and J.T. Collins. 2016. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston and New York. xiv + 494 pp.
Shine, R., P. Harlow, J.S. Keogh, and Boeadi. 1995. Biology and commercial utilization of acrochordid snakes, with special reference to karung (Acrochordus javanicus). Journal of Herpetology 29: 352-360.
Share your observations
You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.
Additional helpful information
Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.
Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.
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