Crocodile Snake Eel, Brachysomophis crocodilinus (Bennett 1833)

Other Names: Crocodile Snake-eel

A Crocodile Snake Eel, Brachysomophis crocodilinus, at Moalboal, Philippines, January 2016. Source: Klaus Stiefel / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial

A whitish to pale brownish snake eel (sometimes with a reddish head), with paler fins and underside, usually dark lateral-line and head pores, and speckling the upper sides in larger fish. This ambush predator usually lies buried in sand waiting for unsuspecting prey.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Brachysomophis crocodilinus in Fishes of Australia, accessed 08 Dec 2022,

Crocodile Snake Eel, Brachysomophis crocodilinus (Bennett 1833)

More Info


Recorded in the Australian EEZ from Great Detached Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. Occurs elsewhere in the tropical, Indo-west-central Pacific.
Inhabits shallow sandy areas to a depth of 15m. 


Vertebrae 116-24. 
Dorsal head profile notably incised and medially constricted behind eyes, flesh above and behind eye laterally elevated as a ridge; snout very short; jaws elongate; eye small, positoined towards front of mouth; anterior nostril a very short tube on upper lip, closely followed by an ethmoidal pore, a barbel, and posterior nostril on outer lip entirely covered by a flap; labial cirri numerous, unbranched and slender on anterior half of mandible lip, those posterior and along lower lip branched at tips; head pores and lateral-line pores apparent; free sensory neuromasts visible as rows of small white spots on nape; teeth conical.  

Dorsal fin origin well behind pectoral-fin tips; pectoral fins teardrop-shaped.


An ambush predator that usually remains buried with only the eyes protruding. Preys on fishes, crustaceans and octopuses.

Species Citation

Ophisurus crocodilinus Bennett, 1833, Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 1833(1): 32. Type locality: Ambon, Moluccas/Maluku, Indonesia (originally given as Mauritius).


Dianne J. Bray

Crocodile Snake Eel, Brachysomophis crocodilinus (Bennett 1833)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

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

Allen, G.R., Steene, R.C. & Orchard, M. 2007. Fishes of Christmas Island. Christmas Island : Christmas Island Natural History Association 2 edn, 284 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Steene, R.C. 1979. The Fishes of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean. Aust. Natl. Parks Wldlf. Ser. Spec. Publ. 2. Canberra : Australian Government Publishing Service 81 pp. 15 pls.

Bennett, E.T. 1833. Characters of new species from the Mauritius. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1833(1): 32.

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
McCosker, J.E. & Castle, P.H.J. 1986. Family No. 42: Ophichthidae. pp. 176-186 in Smith, M.M. & Heemstra, P.C. (eds). Smith's Sea Fishes. Johannesburg : Macmillan South Africa xx + 1047 pp. 144 pls.

McCosker, J.E. & Randall, J.E. 2001. Revision of the snake-eel genus Brachysomophis (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae), with description of two new species and comments on the species of Mystriophis. Indo-Pacific Fishes 33: 1-32.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37068038

Depth:2-15 m

Habitat:Sandy, rubble areas

Max Size:82 cm TL

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