Leopard moray eel Gymnothorax favagineus

Leopard moray eel

  Tropical reef fish

Leopard moray eel Gymnothorax favagineus

Identity card

Leopard moray eel

Scientific name:
Gymnothorax favagineus
Year of description:
Bloch & Schneider, 1801
IUCN Status:
Least Concern

Not Evaluated


South of the Red Sea, from the Indian Ocean, in the tropical West Pacific


They live in rocky crevices down to a depth of 50 m and rarely venture far from the seabed.


The average length is 2 metres, but it can grow up to 3 metres long. It can weigh up to 18 kg.


Fish and cephalopods.

Leopard moray eel Gymnothorax favagineus

Moray eels are generally harmless, but they can bite if they feel threatened.

Even though they do not have any venom, the bite can be very painful; due to the power of their jaws and the number of teeth, an infection can quickly develop. Therefore, it is advisable to refrain from trying to touch them to avoid frightening them.

Did you know?

The spots of moray eels can vary according to the individuals, their size, and their habitat. Observations have shown that moray eels living in clear coral reefs have fewer spots than moray eels that prefer turbid waters.

Where is the animal to be found?

The leopard moray eel often lives in association with wrasse and cleaner shrimp, which benefit from its protection and the remains of its meals, and which, in return, clean and de-worm it.

How can it be recognised?

The leopard moray eel gets its name from the spots on its body that resemble a leopard's coat. Also known as the honeycomb moray eel because of its spotted coat, it lives in rocky crevices down to a depth of 50 m and rarely ventures far from the seabed.

It is one of the two largest moray eels in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. The shape of its body is similar to that of snakes. It is light in colour, white to light yellow, with black to brown spots. It has a large mouth, with very sharp teeth, including on the palate.

What is distinctive about it?

The moray eel is solitary, sedentary and territorial. It lives in hiding. During the day, it stays in holes or crevices and only sticks its head out. It usually keeps its mouth open and shows its teeth, which gives it a threatening appearance.

To make it easier for water to flow through its gills and thus make it easier to breathe, the moray eel opens and closes its mouth regularly.

It usually feeds at night when it comes out of its hole to hunt, relying on its sense of smell more than its poor eyesight.

Where can I find it at Nausicaá?

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Murène léopard Gymnothorax favagineus

Tropical reef fish

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