Hook-Nosed Sea Snake

Enhydrina schistosa

Last updated: May 11, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Raimonds Romans raymoonds/Shutterstock.com

Sea snakes are the most numerous venomous reptiles on earth.

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Family
Serpentes
Genus
Enhydrina
Scientific Name
Enhydrina schistosa

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Conservation Status

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Locations

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Locations

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Facts

Fun Fact
Sea snakes are the most numerous venomous reptiles on earth.
Litter Size
30 live young
Diet
Carnivore
Common Name
Hook-nosed sea snake

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • White
  • Light Grey
Skin Type
Scales
Length
1,110mm or 4-5ft
Venomous
Yes
Aggression
High

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View all of the Hook-Nosed Sea Snake images!



The hook-nosed, beaked, common, or Valakadeyan sea snake is a highly venomous sea snake species whose location is the Indo-Pacific Ocean.

It is responsible for half of all sea snake bites, envenomings, and 90% of fatalities. Its venom has neurotoxins and myotoxins. This sea snake is one of the most common of the 20 sea snake species in India.

5 Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Amazing Facts

  • Its long nose and shape give it a beak or hook-like appearance.
  • Its family Elapidae has snakes with neurotoxic venom, including cobra and kraits.
  • Sea snakes are the most numerous venomous reptiles on earth.
  • It has glands to eliminate excess salt.
  • Anyone who gets bitten by this snake needs immediate medical attention.

Where To Find Hook-Nosed Sea Snake

The locations in which you can find hook-nosed sea snakes are the Arabia Sea, Persian Gulf, South Asia, and southeast Asia, and throughout the warm, tropical waters of the IndoPacific Ocean. They live on the coasts and coastal islands of United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, and Bahrain, south of Madagascar and Seychelles, the Pakistani and Indian coasts from Gujarat to West Bengal, and Andaman & Nicobar Island, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China.

They are active both during the day and night and can dive up to 100m, but they usually remain between 0 and 30m. Although they can hold their breath underwater, their limit is 5 hours, and they usually do so for a half-hour to two hours at a time. They go where the current brings them. The mating season is in the winter, which is when they are aggressive. They give birth to live young.

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Scientific Name

Other names for the common name of the hook-nosed sea snake are beaked, common, or Valakadeyan sea snake. Its class is Reptilia (reptiles) and its family is Elapidae, which consists of venomous tropical and subtropical sea snakes that have erect fangs. Its order is Squamata of the lizards, snakes, and scaled reptiles, while its genus is Enhydrina, which has highly venomous sea snakes and it shares with Enhydrina zweifeli, the Sepik or Zweifel’s beaked sea snake. There are no subspecies. The scientific name for the snake is Enhydrina schistosa. The name Valakadeyan is from the Malayalam and Tamil word Vala kadiyan, which means net biter.

The Different Types of Hook-Nosed Sea Snake

The genus Enhydrina belongs to the hook-nose, beaked, or common sea snake. Enhydra schistosa is also called the Valakadeyan sea snake. Enhydra zweifeli is called Sepik or Zweifeli sea snake and its location is New Guinea and Australia. Like the other species, it lives in coastal lagoons, mangrove forests, shallow open seas, river mouths, and estuaries. Its primary food is also fish, including catfish and pufferfish.

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Population & Conservation Status

The population of Enhydrina schistosa is listed as Stable according to the IUCN Red List. Its status is listed as Least Concern. Population estimates in Malaysia were 900 to 1,400 juveniles in 1985 in the Muar river estuary in 1985, while adults numbered 1,344 ± 654. 7. Juveniles grew on average 0.5gm a day because of the warm temperature of the tropical estuary.

How To Identify Hook-Nosed Sea Snake: Appearance and Description

This sea snake species has as the main feature a nose that is longer than it is wide and shorter than the sides, with scales that are larger than those elsewhere on its body. The nostril scale hooks downwards over its lips. Its color is grey on the upper half, with whitish or yellowish sides and lower half and grey-blue bars. Juveniles are olive or grey with black bands which are widest in the middle. The length of its head and body is 1110mm, while its tail measure 190mm or 3-4 ft and its weight is 4lbs or less. Its coloring acts as a countershading method of camouflage, in which its dark dark upper sides match the shade of the ocean depths it’s at, and lighter undersides help it avoid looking dark against the bright sea surface.

How to identify hook-nosed sea snakes:

  • Grey upper body
  • White lower body and pale yellow sides
  • Blue-grey bars
  • If juvenile, it will be olive or grey with black bands, the widest ones being in the middle
  • Length of head + body = 1110mm or 3-5ft
  • Tail measures 190mm
  • Weight is 4lbs or less
  • Larger scales on the top of its head

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Pictures

The Hook-Nosed Sea Snake is grey on the upper half, with whitish or yellowish sides and lower half and grey-blue bars.
The Hook-Nosed Sea Snake is grey on the upper half, with whitish or yellowish sides and lower half and grey-blue bars.

iStock.com/Eagle2308

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake, Enhydrina schistosa, close up showing head detail and scales. It has a nose that is longer than it is wide and shorter than the sides, with scales that are larger than those elsewhere on its body.
Hook-Nosed Sea Snake, Enhydrina schistosa, close up showing head detail and scales. It has a nose that is longer than it is wide and shorter than the sides, with scales that are larger than those elsewhere on its body.

iStock.com/ePhotocorp

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake's coloring acts as a countershading method of camouflage, in which its dark dark upper sides match the shade of the ocean depths it's at, and lighter undersides help it avoid looking dark against the bright sea surface.
Hook-Nosed Sea Snake’s coloring acts as a countershading method of camouflage, in which its dark dark upper sides match the shade of the ocean depths it’s at, and lighter undersides help it avoid looking dark against the bright sea surface.

Raimonds Romans raymoonds/Shutterstock.com

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Venom: How Dangerous Are They?

The venom from the hook-nosed sea snake’s bite is 4-8 times more lethal than that of a cobra. It takes only 1.5mg of its venom to kill a human, but each bite has 7.9-9mg. Anyone who gets bitten by it needs medical attention immediately, no exceptions. The anti-venom for this sea snake species is only available in Malaysia.

Hook-Nosed Sea Snake Behavior and Humans

Sea snakes are aggressive during the mating season in winter. They bite when surprised or in self-defense. They are fascinated with high-pressure hoses and other long objects.

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Hook-Nosed Sea Snake FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is the beaked sea snake the most venomous snake?

Yes. It is a top 10 of the most venomous snakes in the world, with venom that is 100 times more lethal than that of any other snake.

Is the beaked sea snake aggressive?

Yes, this snake species is aggressive, especially during mating season in the winter. Otherwise, it only bites in self-defense or when surprised.

Where do hook-nosed sea snakes live?

They live in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Is Enhydrina poisonous?

No, it is venomous. Poisonous means it has a toxin that you ingest or inhale. Its venom is harmful when injected but most snake venom is not harmful when swallowed.

Are hooked-nosed sea snakes venomous?

Yes, they are the most venomous snake.

How do beaked sea snakes hunt?

They usually hunt alone or sometimes in groups to prey on the small fish that live in coral reefs.

What do beaked sea snakes eat?

Their main prey is fish.

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhydrina_schistosa
  2. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhydrina
  3. Bioweb, Available here: http://bioweb.uwlax.edu/bio203/s2013/ozongwu_king/facts.htm
  4. Pets on Mom, Available here: https://animals.mom.com/cool-hooknosed-sea-snake-7854.html
  5. MESA, Available here: http://www.mesa.edu.au/sea_snakes/sea_snakes05.asp
  6. Ecology Asia, Available here: https://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/snakes/beaked-sea-snake.htm
  7. Marine Life of Mumbai, Available here: https://www.marinelifeofmumbai.in/photo/hook-nosed-sea-snake/
  8. Nature Web, Available here: https://www.natureweb.net/taxa/snakes/hooknosedseasnake
  9. Research Gate, Available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271605683_Population_Size_Estimates_for_a_Marine_Snake_Enhydrina_schistosa_in_Malaysia
  10. Roaring Earth, Available here: https://roaring.earth/sea-snakes-hunt-in-groups/

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