Grey Carpetshark, Chiloscyllium punctatum Müller & Henle 1838

Other Names: Brownbanded Bamboo Shark, Brown-banded Bamboo Shark, Brownbanded Bambooshark, Brown-banded Cat Shark, Brown-banded Catshark, Brown-banded Cat-shark, Brown-spotted Catshark, Brown-spotted Cat-shark, Gray Carpet Shark, Grey Carpet Shark, Spotted Catshark

A juvenile Grey Carpetshark, Chiloscyllium punctatum, at Anilao, Philippines. Source: Tony Shih / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives


A small, slender bottom-dwelling shark with a subterminal mouth positioned well before the eyes, short nasal barbels and very large spiracles.

Identifying features:
• Nasal barbels relatively long
• Two dorsal fins of equal size, with fin bases almost equal in length to interdorsal space
• First dorsal-fin base positioned partly above pelvic-fin base
• Origin of anal fin behind free rear tip of second dorsal fin
• Juveniles (to about 30 cm) are broadly banded with 10 or so dark wavy bands on a pale background; body sometimes peppered with dark spots
• Large adults plain brownish to greyish, with a pale underside and gill margins

Recent research has shown that some Grey Carpetshark embryos can detect predator-mimicking electric fields and respond by ceasing their respiratory gill movements. Despite being confined to the small space within the egg case, where they are vulnerable to predators, embryonic sharks are able to recognise dangerous stimuli and react with an innate avoidance response (Kempster et al. 2013)

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Chiloscyllium punctatum in Fishes of Australia, accessed 24 May 2024,

Grey Carpetshark, Chiloscyllium punctatum Müller & Henle 1838

More Info


Known in tropical Australian waters from Shark Bay (Western Australia) to the Sandon River (New South Wales) in depths of 5 to at least 85 metres. 

Elsewhere, widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific, from India to Japan, and south to northern Australia.

The Grey Carpetshark inhabits coral reefs, in tide pools, mangrove areas and on sand and mudflats. The well-camouflaged juveniles often shelter crevices and amongst coral.


Carnivore - feeds on small bottom-dwelling fishes and invertebrates such as crabs, polychaete worms and shrimps.


Oviaparous - females lay subrectangular egg cases (11x5cm). The pups hatch at  13 to 17 cm TL after about 5 monthsand grow to at least 132 cm TL in the wild.

Males mature at 68 to 76 cm TL, females at about 63 cm TL (Compagno 2001). Small individuals hide in crevices and among coral and are well camouflaged with their broad banding pattern. Feeds on benthic organisms and small fishes. In Moreton Bay the diet comprises crabs, polychaete worms, shrimps and small teleost fishes (M.B. Bennet pers. obs).


IUCN: Near Threatened

Not thought to be at risk in Australian waters, because some of its habitat is portected within marine parks, and the species is not commercially targetted except possibly for the aquarium trade.

Elsewhere, Chiloscyllium punctatum, is potentially threatened by overfishing, habitat loss and collection for the display-aquarium trade.


Dianne J. Bray

Grey Carpetshark, Chiloscyllium punctatum Müller & Henle 1838


Bennett, M.B. & Kyne, P.M. (SSG Australia & Oceania Regional Workshop, March 2003) 2003. Chiloscyllium punctatum. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <>. Downloaded on 11 November 2012.

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249 [194]

Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). Rome : FAO, FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1 Vol. 2 269 pp. [175]

Compagno, L.J.V. & Niem, V.H. 1998. Families Squatinidae, Heterodontidae, Parascylliidae, Brachaeluridae, Orectolobidae, Hemiscylliidae. pp. 1235-1259 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. 2 687-1396 pp. [1257]

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp. [168]

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes. Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. [42]

Harahush BK, Fischer ABP, Collin SP (2007) Captive breeding and embryonic development of Chiloscyllium punctatum Muller & Henle, 1838 (Elasmobranchii: Hemiscyllidae). J Fish Biol 71: 1007–1022.

Harahush, B.K., Hart, N., Green, K., Collin, S.P. 2009. Retinal Neurogenesis and Ontogenetic Changes in the Visual System of the Brown Banded Bamboo Shark, Chiloscyllium punctatum (Hemiscyllidae, Elasmobranchii). Journal of Comparative Neurology 513: 83-97.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3) [306]

Kempster RM, Hart NS, Collin SP (2013) Survival of the stillest: predator avoidance in shark embryos. PLoS ONE 8(1): e52551. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052551

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls [135]

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. [147]

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 [14]

Whitley, G.P. 1940. The Fishes of Australia. Part 1. The sharks, rays, devil-fish, and other primitive fishes of Australia and New Zealand. Sydney : Roy. Zool. Soc. N.S.W. 280 pp. 303 figs [75]

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37013008

Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

Depth:5-85 m

Habitat:Coral reef associated

Max Size:1.2 m

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