Tentacled Snakes: National Zoo Reveals First Rare Birth In More Than A Decade [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on November 9, 2012 8:50 PM EST

(Photo: Smithsonian's National Zoo) Tentacled Snake
(Photo: Smithsonian's National Zoo) Tentacled Snake

Even rarer than a blue moon (occurs every two or three years), Smithsonian's National Zoo has announced that eight baby tentacled snakes were born, the first successful birth in 11 years.

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While the rare aquatic reptile of Southeast Asia isn't exactly endangered, it rarely makes contact with humans and is poorly understood. Born October 21, the eight snakes are the result of four years of assiduous yet unsuccessful breeding attempts.

Known as the Erpeton tentaculatus to the scientific community, tentacled snakes are quite small, growing to a length between 20 to 35 inches. Marked by their unique tentacles featured prominently on their snouts, these snakes possess hyper-sensitivity capable of recognizing the vibrations from fish that swim by.

Spending their entire lives underwater, tentacled snakes are armed with open jaws and an advanced nervous system that can not only sense where the fish is, but also where the fish will be.

Perhaps the most impressive trait of a tentacled snake is, according to the staff at the National Zoo, the ability to develop at a very fast rate. "Within a few hours of being born, the snakes were already acting like adults," said Matt Evans, a keeper at the Smithsonian's Reptile Discovery Center. "Instincts took over and they were hunting. We don't know much about this cryptic species, but we're already learning so much just watching them grow."

There are currently four adult tentacled snakes on display at the Smithsonian's National Zoo's Reptile Discovery Center. The baby tentacled snakes will likely be sent to other zoos when they grow into adults.

Check out the video below to see the tentacled snake in action:

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