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Bamboo Sharks

Family: Hemiscylliidae

Did you know?

  • Bamboo sharks are part of the Hemiscylliidae family.
  • They are sometimes known as "longtail carpet sharks" and "cat sharks."
  • The Zoo is seasonally home to white-spotted bamboo sharks and brownbanded bamboo sharks.
  • Little is known about their social life, but they are commonly observed congregating in shallow reefs.
  • Female bamboo sharks have thicker skin than male bamboo sharks.


Bamboo sharks are known as “cat sharks” because the nasal barbels near their mouths look like cat whiskers. These are actually sensory organs that help them locate food hidden in the sand. The sharks use their muscular paired fins like legs to help them “crawl” along the ocean floor or reef. Because brownbanded bamboo sharks often hunt in tide pools, they can survive up to 12 hours out of the water.


White-spotted bamboo sharks have dark brown stripes on a lighter brown and gray background and white spots. Brownbanded bamboo sharks have light brown with very faint or no banding visible.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild

Near Threatened

Bamboo sharks are likely to qualify for threatened category in the near future due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and the overfishing of their food sources by humans.


Throughout Indo-West Pacific Ocean regions


White-spotted bamboo sharks prefer inshore, shallow, tropical reefs. Brownbanded bamboo sharks are found in ocean and tidal pools.

we care about bamboo sharks

We support bamboo sharks in the seasonal habitat Stingrays at Caribbean Cove at the Zoo. Learn more about how we are helping wildlife around the world.

Dedicated to Conservation

Find this animal in Lakeside Crossing


Lakeside Crossing

Located in the center of the Zoo, Lakeside Crossing has a variety of food services, shopping destinations and a grassy plaza to rest and relax.

Explore Lakeside Crossing