Thompson's Snake Eel, Muraenichthys thompsoni Jordan & Richardson 1908

A brown to pale brown snake eel becoming darker and yellowish on the rear of the tail, with pale whitish-brown dorsal and anal fins becoming darker and yellowish before the tip of the tail, and a dark yellowish-brown caudal fin.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2019, Muraenichthys thompsoni in Fishes of Australia, accessed 29 May 2024,

Thompson's Snake Eel, Muraenichthys thompsoni Jordan & Richardson 1908

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Northwest of Port Hedland, Western Australia, Ashmore Reef, Timor Sea, and the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-west Pacific, from Madagascar east to Fiji, north to Taiwan and Japan.Inhabits rocky tide pools, sandy and muddy areas in estuaries and among mangroves, usually at depths above 100 m. The species burrows into soft sediments.


A species Muraenichthys with the following combination of characters: head 12–15% TL, tail 57–64% TL; dorsal-fin origin anterior to a vertical through mid-anus, horizontal distance from the origin to the vertical 42–64% of trunk length; eyes large, 6.6–10% HL; snout to interorbital region not concaved along dorsal midline; all teeth relatively slender and pointed, rows uniserial or biserial anteriorly and uniserial posteriorly; vomer relatively slender; predorsal vertebrae 24–32, preanal 42–46 and total 128–138; MVF 27-44-134 (Hibino et al. 2019).


The species is named for  Dr. J. C. Thompson, of the United States Navy, who collected the holotype in Manila Bay in the Philippines.

Species Citation

Muraenichthys thompsoni Jordan & Richardson 1908, Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries (U.S.) for 1907 27: 237, fig. 1. Type locality: Manila Bay, Philippines.


Bray, D.J. 2019


Atlas of Living Australia

Thompson's Snake Eel, Muraenichthys thompsoni Jordan & Richardson 1908


Allen, G.R. 1993. Fishes of Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 44: 67-91 

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Castle, P.J. & McCosker, J.E. 1999. A new genus and two new species of Myrophine worm-eels, with comments on Muraenichthys and Scolecenchelys (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae). Records of the Australian Museum 51(2, 3): 113-122 DOI: 10.3853/j.0067-1975.51.1999.1300, open access

Hibino, Y. & Kimura, S. 2015. A new species of Muraenichthys (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) from the Indo-Pacific, with revised generic diagnosis. Zootaxa 4060(1): 62-70.

Hibino, Y., Ho, H.-C. & McCosker, J.E. 2019. A new species of Muraenichthys (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) from Taiwan, with redescription of Muraenichthys thompsoni Jordan & Richardson, 1908. Zootaxa 4702(1): 041–048 , open access

Jordan, D.S. & Richardson, R.E. 1908. Fishes from the islands of the Philippine Archipelago. Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries (U.S.) for 1907 27: 233-287 figs 1-12 See ref at BHL

McCosker, J.E. 1970. A review of the eel genera Leptenchelys and Muraenichthys, with the description of a new genus, Schismorhynchus, and a new species, Muraenichthys chilensis. Pacific Science 24(4): 506-516 figs 1-6, open access

McCosker, J.E. 1977. The osteology, classification, and relationships of the eel family Ophichthidae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 41(1): 1-123 figs 1-45 See ref at BHL

Smith, D.G. & McCosker, J.E. 1999. Family Ophichthidae. pp. 1662-1699 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 3 pp. 1397-2068.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37068039

Depth:0-10 m

Habitat:Estuaries, mangroves, tidepools

Max Size:27 cm TL

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map