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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About Vern Lovic

Snake posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours and events to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, corals, keelbacks, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species. Here's our latest book with detailed information on Thailand's 35 Deadly Snakes. "Is That Snake In Your House Dangerous? Identify Deadly Thailand Snakes In Under 5 Minutes!" INFO HERE.

5 thoughts on “Puff Faced Water Snake – Non Venomous – Not Dangerous”

  1. I want a puff face water non vonamous snake to keep in fish tank which is filled with water and keep as pet

  2. Two of them were in my garden this morning. One was stretched out across a wide tiled pathway. His/her frontal body was stretched out almost straight for about 75cm, except for very marked vertical corrugations. The tail became almost a whip. I would estimate the length at 1.5m. It was thicker than my thumb in its main body, but not as thick as my arm. After remaining stationary for 15 or 20 seconds, it suddenly whipped round and there was a second one! They disappeared into the brush.

    I was on my way into the house to collect my camera to photograph something else – I did not have my camera with me!!!

    1. These don’t get 1.5 meters. I think 1 meter max. I’ve never seen one bigger than maybe 80cm. 1 meter long snakes of this species are rare. Did you get some photos?

  3. Hi Vern

    Wonder if you could recall, how long/old was that juvie Puff-Faced watersnake? Lovely coloration

    1. Hmm. Sorry, I cannot remember with any degree of accuracy at all. We find them a lot. They are supposed to get up to 1 meter I believe. I’ve seen them that big only twice.

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