Tag Archives: Homalopsis buccata

Puff Faced Water Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous

Puff Faced Water Snake - Homalopsis buccata from Nakhon si Thammarat
Juvenile Puff Faced Water Snake – Homalopsis buccata – Not Dangerous. ©2010 ThailandSnakes.com

(Page Updated: 5 March 2017)

Homalopsis buccata (Puff-faced Water Snake)

Thai – (ngu hua galog, ngu leuam ao)

Size – Average length around 70 cm. Maximum about 120 centimeters. The young are very thin – like a pencil. The adults are thick – like a forearm or even a human leg.

Description – Triangular head distinct from neck. Color varies quite a bit. Brown with incomplete orange bands on the dorsum and laterals, or brown with beige bands, or black with grey bands. Many variations. Sometimes the snake appears quite orange.

Range – All over Thailand and almost always beside or in water: Pools, streams, rivers, puddles, lakes. They are not found on hills or mountains.

Food – Prey includes fish, frogs, and tadpoles primarily.

Behavior – The water snake Homalopsis buccata lives in fresh and salty mixed with fresh – brackish water. These snakes live in and near any body of water – natural or man-made. Puff-Faced Watersnakes are found almost always in the water or on the bank. Small holes in the bank are often home for these snakes.  This snake is primarily active at night, but I have found a few during the daytime.

Young – Born alive without eggs. Coloration – orange and black bands.

Danger – I’ve found dozens of these snakes and they are typically strong and active biters. They can strike like a viper – backward and vertically. I’ve been bitten in the finger by a 70 cm. long snake when I was 5 inches away from the head, coming from behind to grab the neck. With the bright headlamp in his eyes, I don’t know how he could have possibly seen my hand coming. It wasn’t a glancing strike, he bit and held on for a couple minutes. I have heard others say these snakes don’t tend to bite. Maybe they are talking about in their experiences in the pet-trade.

Range – Bangladesh; Myanmar, Cambodia; Thailand; Vietnam; Indonesia; Laos; Malaysia; Singapore; India; Nepal; Pulau Bangka

Homalopsis buccata – Puff-faced Water Snake

Puff-faced Water Snake Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Homalopsis
Species: H. buccata
Binomial name
Homalopsis buccata

Classification by Linnaeus in 1758

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Homalopsis buccata Almost Rips My Finger Off

A bitey puff-faced watersnake (Homalopsis buccata).
A bitey puff-faced watersnake (Homalopsis buccata).

(Page Updated: 6 September 2016)

OK, exaggerating a bit.

OK, a lot.

There is nothing quite like a bite from a snake, when you’re completely not expecting it. I’ve caught a number of these “Puff Faced Water Snakes” – Homalopsis buccata, and while one bit the tongs, none has ever attempted to strike at me. That changed the other night while on a herping trip with Courtney from North Carolina in the states.

I grabbed it fine the first time, and it death-rolled so fiercely I thought it was going to break it’s own neck. I let it go back on the ground by the pond I’d just picked it up at.

The flashlight was shining right in his face – and I was coming up on the approach from behind, but, in hindsight – a bit too much to the side, and he could still see my hand coming. He twisted and struck backward and sideways to grab my middle finger fiercely. I did the twitch, you know, where you jerk your arm in an exaggerated fashion, twirling the snake around like a circus baton, by the mouth on your finger – putting the teeth MUCH deeper than they were originally? Yeah, I did that.

He was NOT letting go, so I asked Courtney to gently put the snake hook point through the jaw between my finger and the joint. Eventually the top opened enough, and then I snuck the bottom finger out. No re-bite, which I was thankful for.

This was a juvenile, but these snakes have powerful jaws, and 26 teeth (I counted the puncture marks on my finger). I was bleeding good, and Courtney got a few pics. Will put one up when she sends me one.

Though a snake is not “known” to bite… do not take it for granted. Practice the same techniques as always to keep from getting bitten. Twenty-six teeth in your finger is not a good feeling… more importantly, you could break some of them in your finger – harming the snake.

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