Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Snowflake Moray Eel

Echidna nebulosi

The snowflake moray eel -- also known as the clouded, starry, or floral moray eel -- is a nocturnal carnivorous feeder that spends daylight hours in saltwater reef or rock crevices. Its serpentine shaped body is light white yellow with black and yellow mottled markings, which give it an appearance of snowflakes, stars or flowers. (Minor variations in color in different areas of world.) It has a dorsal fin along its entire body and a smaller head than most eels, with small eyes and a thickened neck. This eel grows up to 39 inches in the wild and up to 24 inches in human care.

Range & Habitat

This species is widespread in most of the Indo-Pacific area (East coast of Africa and Red Sea to Japan, south to Australia and east to Mexico and Central America.  It lives at depths of 1-50 meters in rocky and coral reefs and occasionally in lagoons with appropriate shelter.  

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Diet

In the Wild: small fish and crustaceans.

At the Zoo: freeze dried krill, small fish, shrimp and meaty foods it can swallow

Life Span

In the Wild: Unknown.
In Human Care: 4+ years

Fun Facts about the Snowflake Moray Eel

  • The snowflake moray eel has to constantly open and close its mouth to provide sufficient water flow over its small circular gills.
  •  This species has poor eyesight, but its excellent sense of smell is used to ambush prey.
  •  Moray eels are the only fish to capture prey with outer teeth and use pharyngeal jaws in their throat (which push forward into its mouth) to pull prey into its stomach.
  •  The snowflake eel is a great escape artist, so an aquarium needs a tight canopy.
  •  This eel can be taught to hand feed, but its teeth are sharp. Keepers at the zoo use long tweezers to feed this eel.

Sources

Sea Unseen, Snowflake Moray Eel - Facts and Photographs, https://seaunseen.com/snowflake-moray-eel/

Fish Care Guide: Snowflake Eel, https://fishcareguide.com/snowflake-eel-guide/

Updated March 30, 2021
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