Kakadu National Park

The file snake is an aquatic snake. It gets its name from its rough, file-like skin, which helps it to grip slippery fish and other prey.

File snakes are very active in the water, but their loose skin means they have trouble moving about on land.

Adult file snakes can reach 2.5 metres in length. Females are usually larger than males and give birth to live young.

Where to see it

File snakes can often be seen lurking around the roots of freshwater pandanus plants. They sometimes venture onto land, but rarely move more than a few metres from the safety of the water.


File snakes’ slow metabolism means they only need to eat once a month. But when they eat, they eat well – a big file snake can swallow a fish twice its width in a matter of seconds.

They enjoy feasting on Kakadu’s catfish, and it is quite common to see a snake with poisonous catfish barbs protruding from its skin as it digests its meal.


Bininj/Mungguy often hunt file snakes during Kurrung, the hot dry season from August to October

Other names

  • Scientific name: Acrochordus arafurae