Species group: Water Snakes
Other common names: FWC; False Cobra; Brazilian Smooth Snake; South American Water Cobra
Scientific name: Hydrodynastes gigas
The False Water Cobra is a rear-fanged venomous colubrid species found in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and northern Argentina. The False Water Cobra generally lives in wet, humid and marsh land areas such as rainforests.
Appearance / health:
Hydrodynastes gigas is a large colubrid that may exceed 300 cm (9 to 10 ft) in total length when adult. The common name "False Water Cobra" is an allusion to its ability to flatten its head, similar to a cobra as a defensive reaction to make it look larger and more intimidating. However, unlike the true cobra the false water cobra stays in a horizontal position when it flattens its head, rather than standing in a vertical position. The False Water Cobra has large eyes with circular pupils allowing good daytime vision. The background color is an olive green or brown, with dark spots and bands covering much of its body.
Behavior / temperament:
H. gigas is primarily a diurnal species. It is also a very active and inquisitive snake, which will spend much of the day climbing, burrowing and even swimming.
The enclosure should vary in temperature between 80-85F on the cool side, to 95-100F on the basking side (directly under the light.)
large snake, Voracious eaters
larger cages, feeding response bite, aggressive species, potentially dangerous animal, venomous snake
false hood, decent sized water, snake hook
Stunning but scary
I've not kept these as a personal pet but have been working with them at work for a few years. There are no circumstances under which I would call this species a "pet" animal - but it can be a rewarding species to keep for an experienced snake enthusiast.
Adults get quite large, we have a female at 7ft in length. No matter how much you work on handling them, they are by nature both a fast, flighty and aggressive species, that readily hoods up to display - a false hood that mimics a cobra, hence their name. Absolutely amazing to look at it - but quite scary too.
Whilst not deadly like a cobra, they do have a venom (rear fanged, which means the delivery system is ineffective and does not tend to enter the blood stream) and this could be a problem if they bit someone with allergies, or someone with a compromised immune system, a child or elderly person. For a normal adult, there could be some localized pain and swelling, but you wouldn't need to see a doctor even if bitten.
At work we treat these with the same respect and caution as we treat the front-fanged snakes. They also require a large enclosure with a decent sized water area, specific temperatures and humidity. They are a good experience for people who might want to keep more deadly snakes in the future, as they'll help you learn respect and how to use a snake hook, gloves and tongs, but I can't recommend them to anyone simply wanting a pet.
I've attached a picture of a baby - they are cute when small, but never forget how much more work they will be when 7 ft long!.
From Athravan Jun 14 2015 5:05AM