Arafura File Snake Fact File

Acrochordus arafurae

Credit: Matt from Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 9 years

Captive 9 years




Conservation Status


Least Concern

A Snake in the River!

The arafura file snake is found almost exclusively in the water and struggles to move around on land due to their baggy skin.

Each night they emerge to seek out fish on which they can feed. Their name is taken from the rough, file-like skin which helps them to keep a tight hold on prey as they constrict it.

Females give birth to live young once every two to three years.

This species is collected for food, their skin which is used in the production of drums and for display in zoos.

Read on to learn more about these superb snakes.


What does the Arafura File Snake look like?

The arafura file snake is named for the rough, file-like skin. Each scale is keeled and has a rasp-like texture. Their body hangs loose and baggy on their body.

Across the majority of their body the scales are colored brown which is patterned with black bands and patches running irregularly down the back. On the underside they have white scales.

Their head is only slightly distinct from the body.

An average adult Arafura file snake will measure 1.5m (4.9ft) long. Females tend to be significantly larger than males.


How does the Arafura File Snake survive in its habitat?

Their coarse skin is an adaptation which helps with gripping the slippery skin of the fish which they feed on.

It is believed that their scales are equipped with sensors that allow them to detect the location of their prey.

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What does the Arafura File Snake eat?

Arafura file snakes are considered carnivores and will feed on fish. Food is captured and constricted using their strong muscles before being swallowed whole.

They will anchor their tail to a tree root before striking out at the prey item as it swims past. Once captured prey can be swallowed in just minutes.

Food is eaten irregularly but takes a long time to digest. They may eat as little as once per month.

Learn more about the Arafura File Snake in this video from envirowarrior on YouTube


Where do you find the Arafura File Snake?

Australia, New Guinea and Indonesia are the native homes of the Arafura file snake.

In Australia they can be found in the state of Queensland and the Northern Territory within the northern areas of the country. Their range comes close to the border with Western Australia but is not believed to extend in to this state.


Where can the Arafura File Snake survive?

Arafura file snakes spend almost their entire life in the water. These animals live primarily in freshwater habitats but may also be found in brackish water. They show a preference for waterbodies with muddy bottoms.

They find moving on land difficult and do not leave the water unless absolute necessary.

The waterways they inhabit are found in wetlands and grassland.

Arafura File Snake (Acrochordus arafurae)

Credit: Matt from Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


How does the Arafura File Snake produce its young?

Females will mate with a male where one is available. In some cases though she will not meet a male and as a result reproduces parthenogenically which will ensure the survival of her genes.

An average clutch from this species will include an average of 17 young. Young are born live.

Females give birth to the young 3 months after copulation occurs.

Females produce a single clutch of young once every two to three years.

Sexual maturity is achieved at 85cm (33.5in) long for males. Females must be 115cm (45.2in) long before they achieve this.


What does the Arafura File Snake do during its day?

Most of their hunting is undertaken at night.

This species of snake is non-venomous and must rely on constriction to subdue their prey.

These animals must surface at regular intervals to breathe.

Arafura File Snake (Acrochordus arafurae)

Credit: Smacdonald at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Arafura File Snake from surviving and thriving?

The arafura file snake is considered common across its range and their numbers remain stable.

In areas of their range this species is used as a food source. Harvesting occurs to supply this with reproductive females being targeted as the preferred food source.

Through their range in New Guinea the file snake is collected for their skin which is turned in to drums.

Small numbers are also collected for display in zoos.

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Quick facts

They may also be known as the trunk file snake or the wrinkle file snake.

This species was only first described for modern science during 1979. The description was completed by Samuel Booker McDowell.

Arafura File Snake (Acrochordus arafurae)

Credit: Matt from Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.

Tallowin, O., Parker, F., O'Shea, M., Cogger, H., Vanderduys, E., Amey, A., Hoskin, C. & Couper, P. 2018. Acrochordus arafuraeThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T176764A21647516. Accessed on 12 March 2022.

Holem, R. 2000. "Acrochordus arafurae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 12, 2022 at 2022. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 March 2022].

Carter, T., 2022. Arafura File Snake — Australian Wildlife | Brisbane | Workplace Reptile Safety Training. [online] Australian Wildlife | Brisbane | Workplace Reptile Safety Training. Available at: <> [Accessed 12 March 2022].

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