Dangerous Snakes in Hong Kong

A review of the DANGEROUS SNAKES in Hong Kong.

By Robert Ferguson

This first listing is limited to a review of the DANGEROUS SNAKES in Hong Kong.

It is now February 24th 2009….the sun is shining, and the weather is getting warmer. Snakes and reptiles are reappearing from their hibernation. Only this morning I found a Rufous Burrowing snake on my morning run, and a Reeve’s skink on my doorstep!
There are a lot of rumours about snakes in Hong Kong….so I would like to share information about these wonderful animals. This first listing is limited to a review of the DANGEROUS SNAKES in Hong Kong.
For reptile and snake pics and a comprehensive database of them, including over 300 images simply see the Hong Kong Reptile Ark at http://www.flickr.com/groups/ark_hongkong_reptiles/
沒有一个简单的方法告訴你哪种蛇沒有毒,除非您真的了解那么基本原则不理会他們,那么他們理会您。您不會蛇攻擊——為什麼?它不可能吃您! ——据我们所知,被蛇咬傷或被攻击,或是因为人快走,或把手伸向蛇隐藏的地方,或是挑逗蛇。
香港蛇是害羞和怯懦的如果他們能的话,他们会嘗試但是,如果他們認為他們被攻擊的话,有些会攻击性地,并且極快速移動。环蛇甚至獨自用他们的脖子或身體,把转到後面咬住试图想要抓住它的….因此不要! 不要嘗試移動他們我們知道人想幫助蛇离开小路,但是最后因为被蛇严重咬伤而进医院如果您想要幫助他们可以使用長棍。
如果您想要看,可以沿着足跡。多数不可能近距离惊动它们如果您想要冒險入灌木 a) 您走动时发出很多声响。當他們感覺您的動,多數都会躲起来
响尾蛇喜歡伏击捕获物,因此他们不会咬人。当他們聽見您他們通常不移動,并且偽裝得泰然自若的; 而且他們能看见并且使用他們熱感應的陷窝器在晚上袭击关于所有蛇和他們之间的區別看如下名單….
如果有一條蛇出现在您的房子附近那么一個好它去除….可以找来警察(他们应该有办法降服并且把Kadoorie農場,但是他们多数会被殺害)或者叫下列之一:–  please see English language version below.

Firstly, let me reassure you……snakebite fatalities are now virtually unknown in Hong Kong. 40,000+ people die every year worldwide from snakebites…but NOT in this part of China. There ARE poisonous and even deadly snakes in Hong Kong and you should be aware of them, but most are very rare and/or nocturnal – you are very unlikely to “bump” into one – and even if you do, none are overtly aggressive, so they will quickly disappear. Note also that 90% of these snakes are nocturnal.


Six land species can inflict life endangering bites (the Banded Krait, the Many banded Krait, Chinese Cobra, King Cobra, Coral Snake, and the Red Necked Keelback). These “elapid” snake bites cause nerve related damage. The two other venomous snakes – both pit vipers, the Bamboo and Mountain Pit Viper – have bites that can cause extreme pain and swelling (and still pose a fatality threat to children and dogs). Five other snakes have enlarged poison fangs at the back of the jaw (opistholglyphous), but are not known to produce much reaction in humans…phew. The Common Rat Snake and the Burmese Python are not poisonous, but do get very large, and their teeth can cause nasty cuts and gashes.

There is NO easy way to tell venomous from not, unless you actually know the snakes…and even then ID is not always clear in the heat of the moment. (Can you really tell that the third supralabial scale is NOT touching the eye and nasal scale? be honest). So basic principles apply…leave them alone, and they WILL leave you alone. You will not be attacked by a snake – why would it? it cannot eat you! – so all known snakebites on humans are defensive, and the result of being stepped on, or putting your hand where a snake is hiding, or limited to someone handling a snake. Snakes in Hong Kong are shy and timid, and will try and “run away” if they can. But, if they think they are being attacked then some of them will turn very aggressive, and they can move extremely fast. The krait can even turn its head back on its own neck/body to bite anyone silly enough to try holding him there….so don’t! Don’t pick up snakes to try and move them…we know of someone who wanted to help a snake off a path, but ended up in hospital with a painful serious bite. If you want to help, use a long stick.

If you don’t want to see snakes then stick to the trails. It is highly unlikely that you will surprise each other up close. If you want to venture off into the bush then a)make a lot of noise as you walk. Most will disappear when they feel the vibrations of your walking. b)Walk with a stick, and if you are walking in vegetation beat the bushes in front of you, or part the greenery as you walk. That way you will not surprise it.

As you walk any snakes you come across will try and escape rapidly from your presence….which is very reassuring. BUT – as always, – there is one exception:- The Green Bamboo Snake AKA the Green Pit Viper.
Most of the bites i have heard of are from this

snake and my wife knows three people who have been bitten (all are fine, but had very painful swelling). The Pit Vipers are nocturnal, so you are unlikely to meet them during the day. If you see a green snake during the day it is more than likely the harmless and inoffensive Greater Green Snake. The Pit Vipers end up biting people because they like to ambush their prey, so they do not normally move when they hear you, and rely on their camouflage to remain undisturbed; plus they can “see” and can strike at night using their heat sensing pit organs. For all the snakes and their differences see the list below….


As a general rule you are far more likely to see snakes in the warmer months….from March to November, as they are cold blooded and rely on heat to move around.

If you WANT to see more reptiles and snakes then go to their habitats – see information on that under the discussion forums for each species. Hiking carefully around the Country Parks look carefully in the right habitats, take your time and be patient, keep your eyes peeled and listen carefully for a tell-tale rustle in the leaves or bushes, and then you can normally see one of the more common species of lizards, and probably snakes too.

If you have a snake near your house then it is a good idea to have it removed…for both of you….options include calling the police (who are supposed to capture it and take it for release to Kadoorie Farm, but often the snake is killed).
Or call one of the following:-

1. WILLIAM If anyone reading does need one removing from their place, I’m happy to do it, as the police simply kill them, regardless of whether they are protected or not. Please feel free to call me 94708442.
2. Another snake contact is Dave Willot – a dedicated snake saver, who would rather be phoned and come around to pick up the snake than have one of you kill it. You can phone on his freely available number which is (already published in books and therefore in the public domain) 23282526.
3. [email protected] reaches a local TV/Herp “celebrity” who runs interesting educational programmes including about herps.

4. Herp Removal & Relocation Service    Got Snake around home? We can take it away for you.. HKRAS is available for emergency calls (9743-2011) regarding removing snakes and other herps from your home. We can remove it from your home and relocate it to somewhere suitable and far away from people. It is the best solution for both you and it. In order to qualify for this service you must: be within Hong Konghave the animal in your sight, or captured in a containerpay a reasonable fee for our gasoline and timenot harm the animal Please use caution and tools when capturing a snake. You may use a rake or broom to sweep it into a large garbage can – they cannot crawl out of it.
Thanks for reading and any feedback is welcome.
For more pics of Hong Kong Animals, and to post your own, go to: The Ark Project, Hong Kong www.flickr.com/groups/ark_project_hongkong/
My own photostream is here:


Venomous, and dangerous.

Now very rare due to loss of habitat. Mainly nocturnal.

Nocturnal, extremely dangerous and fatalities have been recorded in Hong Kong. Highly distinctive black and white markings. c.50-100cm. Has 30+ distinct bands.

Mainly nocturnal, but sometimes out during the day. Extremely dangerous and fatalities have been recorded in Hong Kong. Can be black, grey, brown or even golden! with or without lines or spots.
Like the King Cobra, can easily be confused with a the Common Rat Snake, but lacks the distinctive black head bars of the Rat Snake. Has an expandable hood and a binocular/monocular pattern on the back of it.


World’s largest venomous snake, up to 6m. Rare in Hong Kong. Extremely dangerous and fatalities have been recorded in Hong Kong…mainly from staff in snake shops!

Nocturnal, and very uncommon. Distinctive reddish colour.

Mainly active during the day. Bright distinctive red neck. Only recently considered dangrous due to fatalities overseas.
Probably the most common of the venomous snakes listed above, and the one you are most likely to come across when hiking in the hills of Hong Kong.

Venomous, nasty – but not fatal.

Triangular shaped head with many small scales, with a thin distinct neck. Reddish end to its tail. red or golden eye. Slit pupils. Keeled/pronounced scales. Rarely moves away. heat sensing pits around mouth.
Photo Credit: Roger Kendrick. aka HK Moths.

Closely resembles the greater green snake which is harmless, which has large scales on head, no distinct neck, brown eye, with round pupil, no red on tail, no heat sensing pits around mouth. clear?
You can click on the pics below for a bigger shot.
Here is a shot of the head of the pit viper….

and here is a shot of the head of the Greater Green Snake:
PHOTO CREDIT samson so   (this pic taken on mainland china)
Venomous, but not dangerous to humans

LARGE SPOTTED CAT SNAKE http://www.flickr.com/groups/ark_hongkong_reptiles/discuss/72157612267086820/?search=LARGE+SPOTTED+CAT+SNAKE
Rare and locally restricted to Deep Bay
Active night and day, not common, some swelling may occur if bitten
Mainly nocturnal, lives in streams
Quite common and will strike


Not Venomous, but bites can hurt.

A highly protected species. Most are around 2-4m in length. They are powerful and vicious, and will bite readily.
Known to take the occasional dog or goat. More of a nuisance to farmers than a threat.
Quite common, one of the rare daylight only active snakes. Will bite readily.

Hong Kong wildlife articles and galleries

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *