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Cloudy Snail Eater

Overall satisfaction


Acquired: Wild caught / rehabilitation animal

Gender: N/A









Easy to provide habitat


Easy to handle




Easy to clean and maintain habitat


Easy to Feed


Easy to provide environmental needs


Common or Cloudy Snail Eater

By MegF

Aiken, South Carolina, United States

Posted Jan 22, 2010

The snail eater can be found in South America and is a member of the colubrid family.  Nocturnal, they are rarely seen unless you really look for them.  The most commonly found one is the Nebulatus or clouded snail eater.  There are more colorful versions found in Costa Rica-they resemble the pink and green version of the eyelash viper as far as coloration and pattern-but they are very rare and impossible to get out of the country.  These snakes are exclusively snail and slug eaters.  Mine will readily eat either, and will take the slugs frozen/thawed.  I simply place the thawed slugs on their logs in their cages and they come by and eat them during the night. I find slugs at nearby farms during the spring and summer months and freeze them for future use.  Live snails can be purchased online, or found in gardens.  Take care to be sure there are no pesticides used in the area that will taint the snails or slugs.  These are a shy species that are not very visible and their plainer brown coloration do not make them especially beautiful display animals, but the sheer strangness of their heads and looks make them desirable nonetheless.  They are extremely difficult to obtain as most importers do not get many in, and fewer survive to be sold. Due to the nature of their prey, they need to be fed more often than other snakes...at least every 5-7 days.  I tend to feed smaller amounts more frequently...every 3 days or so.  These animals require warmer temperatures and higher humidity than other colubrids and need to be kept under the same conditions as a green tree python or amazon.  Being arboreal, these snakes like lots of cover and branches to climb on at night.  I use sphagnum moss as a substrate, provide silk plants and vines to climb on and a moderate water bowl to provide drinking water and soaking.  Sibons are very docile as their prey has no teeth.  They will flatten their heads in defense to make themselves look larger, but will attempt to escape rather than bite. I've never had one bite or attempt to bite.  The most interesting thing about this snake is it's ability to remove snails from the shell.  Their jaws are inflexible, much like ours, to allow them to have more leverage to pull snails out of shells. This makes them unique in the snake world.  I'm planning on pairing up my trio this year and hope to have some eggs.  If I can accomplish this, it will be the first captive born and bred babies in the United States. 

1 member found this helpful

Posting as


I came across a fascinating article on another species of snail eating snake - Pareas iwasakii. How it has evolved to better pull snails from their shells is amazing enough, but now it has been discovered that one species of snail has evolved in a way to counteract the snake...

"Pareas iwasakii, has lopsided jaws to better enable it to tug snails out of their shells. Most snails have shells that whirl clockwise (to the right) so P. iwasakii has evolved an upper jaw with more teeth on the right side than the left. In a sample of 28 snakes, the Hoso found each one had an average of 17.5 teeth on its left jaw and 24.9 teeth on the right.

The lack of symmetry helps the snake pry the snails out of their shells with alternate retractions of their left and right jaws, a technique called "mandible walking".

The snail, Satsuma c. caliginosa, has countered the snake's adaptation by evolving a left-handed swirling pattern.

Hoso et al. write in Biology Letters: In addition, our experiments demonstrate a defensive function of sinistrality for snails against snake predators. Sinistral variants have been generally  considered to suffer selective disadvantages on account of the overwhelming predominance of dextrals (Vermeij 1975, 2002; Johnson 1982; Gould et al. 1985;
Asami et al. 1998; but see Dietl & Hendricks 2006). However, sinistrals should enjoy a selective advantage over dextrals under chirally biased predation by snakes. The remarkable diversity of sinistral snails in Southeast Asia (Vermeij 1975; Hoso et al. 2006, unpublished data) may be attributable to  ‘right-handed predation’ by the snakes.

Reply Posted January 23, 2010 at 12:52 PM

MegF to earthling

I read this article as well. It was very interesting to read.

Reply Posted January 23, 2010 at 05:23 PM