Today we will be looking at the weird crab eating snake (Fordonia leucobalia) which is found in northern Australia, New Guinea and Southeast Asia.
The sadistic crab eating snake
Also known as the white bellied mangrove snake, the crab eating snake is a true specialist, feeding almost entirely on crabs. It’s weird for a snake to be eating crustaceans in the first place- only very few actually do this, but the crab eating snake takes weird to a whole new level.
But first, a bit about how and where to find them. The crab eating snake is found in mangrove habitats, and is normally only seen at night. When darkness falls and the tide is low, you may see a crab eating snake or two out on the prowl for some tucker.
Crabs are located by smell, the crab eating snake has terrible eyesight. Once a crab is located the crab eating snake strikes with its mouth shut and pins the crab under its chin. Throwing loops over the crab keeps it under control. If the crab is small enough it is swallowed whole, but larger crabs are dismembered. This is where the crab eating snake is totally unique. The claws and legs are twisted off one by one and swallowed, leaving a legless crab on the mud!
These photos show four color forms of the crab eating snake. Why are they so varied? Maybe because the habitat varies so much in terms of gravel, sand, mud and water height. But it may also mean the crab eating snake is particularly varied genetically.
Check out this video on the crab eating snake in action in Darwin, Australia…