Fangtooth Snake Eels: Interesting Facts and Bite Information

Fangtooth Snake Eels: vampires of the deep, as I’ve chosen to call them. This title has been born from the simple and aggressive nature of the eel’s name. With a cuddly name like this, they’re bound to be fascinating creatures.

What Is A Fangtooth Snake Eel?

What is a Fangtooth Snake Eel? The Fangtooth Snake Eel is a part of the Ophichthidae, or “snake eel”  family. They are found at the bottom of tropical ocean spots around the Gulf of Mexico and South America. Known for their protruding teeth and snake-like shape, these eels are serious hunters of fish and crustaceans. 

Despite their snake-like features, there are some differences between snakes and fangtooth eels. Below are some of those differences.

What Are Fangtooth Snake Eels?

The Fangtooth Snake Eel is not a new creature suddenly dropped in the middle of the ocean; they have been around for centuries.

We are never sure how to react to unknown things, but it always helps to get a better understanding of what we’re dealing with. As any good detective would do, I’ve sought out the facts and learned about the dangers.

It’s always important to know your enemy before deciding to fear your enemy. What I’ve learned about these eels has intrigued me more than frightened me, and I’m excited to share the many interesting facts that I have discovered.

First Impressions of the Fangtooth Snake Eel

Reading headlines about these eels has reminded me of creatures causing havoc in the town of a scary movie.

I can imagine everyone gathered around the TV store in the middle of Main Street to watch panicked newscasters reveal the horrors unfolding: “Monster of the deep washes up on shore after Hurricane Harvey.”

This isn’t a movie, however, so we find unfamiliar creatures and events compelling rather than revolting. The beauty of the human race is our hunger for knowledge.

We have a knack of finding new things and dedicating ourselves to learning what we can about them to understand what we’re dealing with. 

What scientists have found about Fangtooth Snake Eels has not left us disappointed. Like many creatures we discover, the Snake Eel has many qualities that distinguish it in the wild.

From appearance to behavior to living arrangement, the Fangtooth Snake Eel never disappoints. 

Fangtooth Snake Eel Physical Features

The Fangtooth Snake Eel is not known for its attractive appearance. They are much more complex than that. The goal for this eel is to blend in. Standing out or attracting attention is the last thing that nature intended for these beasts.

They are not pretty, colorful, or nice to look at. They prefer to reside in dark and muddy places, so their brown and black spotted skin is perfect for camouflaging themselves against prey and predators alike.

It has a basic eel shape with a slightly larger head and jaw area and a long body resembling a snake’s. The word that comes to mind when thinking about the look and characteristics of this snake is “practicality.” The Fangtooth Snake Eel is equipped with exactly what it needs and nothing more.

According to, which has compiled a basic list of scientific facts, the Fangtooth Snake Eel can grow to about 2 feet in length.

This is a good size for a creature hoping to escape as much notice as possible while still being able to overpower food and protect itself. 

Snake vs. Eel

I started off this journey of discovery and soon developed the simple question: what is the exact difference between a snake and an eel? The simplest answer I have found is that eels have gills, and live underwater, and snakes have lungs.

The reports have also described eels as a sort of hybrid stretched out fish rather than a snake. So it’s understandable when a creature with both “snake” and “eel” in the title gives us pause.

A Fangtooth Snake Eel is an eel for sure. It lives deep in the ocean with its own set of gills. I think in these cases “snake” is used as a descriptive word to give the reader a sense of its general dimensions. 

Fun Fact: Fangtooth Snake Eels belong in the Ophichthidae family. This family is made up of creatures known to many as “snake eels.”

I don’t want to get too technical, but the family name, Ophichthidae, comes from a Greek root word and roughly translates into English as “serpent”.

This brings me memories of the Loch Ness monster that we see in movies and cartoons. Giant serpents that terrorize swimmers and then disappear without a trace under the dark surface of a lake or ocean.

Movies like to exaggerate things, so we shouldn’t be too afraid of a Fangtooth Snake Eel terrorizing us as we swim, but they are pretty mysterious hiding in their burrows.

All in all, the name has to do with the appearance of the eel and not the land-dwelling characteristics that naturally come to mind when thinking of snakes.

It’s interesting to me to think of the confusion that occurs. I think it happens because we are familiar with snakes even if we’ve never owned one or seen one in person.

Humans, as creatures who live on land, have a good idea about a lot of the animals and reptiles that we live near. We have a general understanding of snakes from the tales and experiences of others.

Ocean bound creatures are sometimes a complete mystery to us, so they are the key players of nautical tales and nightmares. Truly, I think certain names are given to them to make them more familiar to us and to further our understanding of their looks and habits.

Where Are They Found?

Fangtooth Snake Eels are most likely to be found near the Gulf of Mexico or around certain parts of South America in tropical waters. They live at depths ranging from 30-100ft.

The classification of “snake eel” makes them common burrowers. They make their homes in the soft bottom of their chosen water source. Their bodies are regularly covered except for the very tip of their snout and their eyes. This is to anticipate and attack prey with little chance of being spotted.

The habits of each eel change slightly from one to the next. Some of the Snake Eels will find a burrow that it stays in for the duration of its life.

Others may move from one burrow to another whenever it wants. I’m under the impression that they aren’t big into adventure, so their living situation doesn’t change regularly.

Like all beasts of the natural world, they will have to migrate during certain times of year to mate. The overall consensus is that they aren’t travelers, but they do what they must to ensure survival.

There haven’t been many tests conducted, that I have found, that study the movements or habits of a Fangtooth Snake Eel from birth to death. So I don’t possess a complete understanding, but I’ve tried to gather as much information as I could for you.

In summation, they move around when the situation necessitates it, but they prefer to stay in one place for long periods of time.

The Fangtooth Diet

This section is not complicated, for Fangtooth Snake Eels are not picky eaters. They have two main dishes that are a part of their diet, and both choices of prey don’t make it easy for predators to eat them.

Big sharp teeth are supremely important to an eel whose main diet is crustaceans and bony fish. Bony fish, I have discovered, are not some sort of super skinny supermodel fish of the ocean.

They are a type of fish that are, of course, made up of bone instead of a large amount of cartilage. The significance of tough and bony food in a snake eel’s life makes sharp teeth and powerful jaws essential.

This simple choice of food makes living situations easier since both creatures are abundant in most every part of the ocean. Uncomplicated and straightforward is how I like my Snake Eels. 

Hunting and Food

These creatures aren’t ones for the fair fight. They prefer to hide in rocky caves, or burrows in the mud, waiting for some poor unsuspecting creature to casually swim by. Then it makes its move.

As fast as it can possibly go without overshooting the target, the eel lurches from the shadows and nabs dinner before the fish knows what’s happening.

Their living situation is crafted specifically for their hunting needs. It is a quick and easy way to grab a meal with little effort and searching. This makes me think that more care is put into choosing a dwelling than it originally seems.

They’d have to be in a spot that has a lot of traffic without the potential for fish abandoning the area when a threat is discovered. I suppose this would have to do with fish and their tendency to migrate often or other factors I’m not well versed on.

Their Bite

It’s hard to find much information specifically involving Fangtooth Snake Eels, so I’ve researched other eels with similar habits and features to learn more about what kind of creature it could be.

Many have asked if the bite of a creature such as the Fangtooth Moray Eel, slightly different from the Fangtooth Snake Eel, is poisonous. From what I’ve found, the answer is no.

However, their bite can still be dangerous. For an aquatic animal that is designed to bite through hard shells of crustaceans and bone, their bite is understandably strong.

There have been many cases of divers or over curious adventurers have encountered a similar eel with stunning consequences. One diver was reportedly bitten and lost a finger. Many sources explain that these creatures don’t hunt humans, but can attack if provoked or threatened in any way.

Other Common Names

For those readers who are a fan of basic facts and scientific jargon, the scientific name for the Fangtooth Snake Eel is Aplatophis chauliodus. I don’t know what it means, but it does sound cool and can be an interesting fact for parties or wowing a crowd during an intense game of Trivial Pursuit. 

Some other names this creature is called are:

  • Toothy Eel
  • Tusky Eel

All of these names share a similar feature: teeth. The Fangtooth Snake Eel is known for its bite more than its bark it seems, if you’ll forgive the cliche. This creature isn’t referred to as the “Tusky Eel” for nothing.

The front teeth protrude from the eel’s jaw when its mouth is closed and is the first thing that you’ll see if you ever come face to face with one.

This defining characteristic is the prize of experienced underwater photographers. It’s not worth a trip to see Fangtooth Eels if you can’t get one to open its mouth and flash those fangs for the camera.

Photographers tend to choose a more colorful and visible Fangtooth to capture because of their intriguing features, but the teeth on a Snake Eel is enough for the exotic fish paparazzi.

Similar Species

As stated above, the Fangtooth Moray Eel is very similar to the Fangtooth Snake Eel. The main difference is their housing situations. The Moray chooses to live in coral reefs or in rock caves. Their mannerisms are very similar to the Snake Eel by how they hunt and what they eat. 

Fangtooth Moray Eels are more frequently encountered than the Fangtooth Snake Eel because they are found in places where humans may spend their time when in the ocean.

A typical vacation activity in tropical places is scuba diving and snorkeling. Coral reefs are some of the world’s most beautiful natural sights and can get many curious visitors.

Moray Eels sometimes choose certain parts of coral reefs as their homes and can be happened upon by experienced divers and tourists alike. On the other hand, the Fangtooth Snake Eel would prefer to stick to the muddy bottom where little beauty is found, and human curiosity rarely extends that far down.

The recurring and most distinct characteristic of Fangtooth Eels, besides the powerful chompers, is that they don’t want to be seen. Their entire lifestyle, no matter if they’re Snake Eel or Moray, is based on the fact that they can blend into their surroundings and hunt with the element of surprise on their side. 

They won’t go looking for you if you don’t go looking for them. 

Related Questions

What oceans do Fangtooth Snake Eels live in? Snake Eels prefer to stay in warm waters. They tend to be found in The Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean near South America in brackish water deep below the surface.

Are Fangtooth Moray Eels dangerous? Like most wild creatures, Fangtooth Moray Eels can leave you in bad shape after a bite. The way they bite and the toxins that can be found on their teeth can injure you severely if the injury is not taken care of immediately. They are wild creatures and they will not attack you unless threatened.

Can a Fangtooth Snake Eel kill you? Even though Snake Eels are carnivorous, humans are not in their personal food chain. They can bite and injure you, but your size and unfamiliarity will prevent them from hunting you for prey. Their main diet is fish and crustaceans, so they are likely only to attack if provoked or threatened.