PREVALENCE: Not Common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Active at night
KEY ID FEATURES: Yellow and black even banding, sometimes white and black, distinct keel shaped body
BEHAVIOR: Hunts on the ground at night, moves slow but capable of striking, generally will flee
SIZE: Medium/Large - 2m+
OTHER: Can be mistaken with Banded Wolf Snakes depending on coloration
QUICK ASSESSMENT 0-10
IMPORTANT: Many snakes have significant variance in coloration and pattern even within the same species. There can also be extreme differences in appearance from juveniles to adults so it is important to never assume you have properly identified a snake.
High contrast yellow and black or sometimes white/grey and black banding evenly spaced running the length of the body. Head is rounded with dark yellow stripes running from snout to the back of the jaw. Slightly stockier than its cousin the Many Banded Krait, the Banded Krait has a very distinct keeled shape to its body which makes it look triangular. A medium to large sized snake they can grow up to 180cm. Unique tail rounded off into a nub at the end and can appear like a small head.
Active at night and mainly hunts other snakes. Generally docile when approached they are not quick to bite but will do so if disturbed or handled especially during their active period at night. Normally slow and deliberate in their movement they are capable of moving quickly when fleeing. Attack behavior is erratic with wild head movements and lunging. Will bite from any direction and does not normally display characteristic ‘S’ shape before striking. Will normally hide its head under its body and leave its tail exposed where the round end appears like a small head. Predators will bite the tail leaving them exposed to a bite from the concealed head. Very capable burrower adept at quickly wedging itself into holes and crevices. Hunts near water sources and will eat lizards as well as other snakes. Highly venomous and any bite should be treated as life threatening.
The Banded Krait is a terrestrial species often hunting in areas near water, including culverts, streams and either fresh water or brackish mangrove areas. It can be found all over Hong Kong including Hong Kong Island but is very rare due to habitat loss. A less common encounter for most given its nocturnal nature, it is possible though very unlikely to bump into one on the trail and if so they should be give a wide berth and left alone.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: The Banded Krait can be potentially confused with the Banded Wolf Snake, which is a harmless species. It can also be confused with its deadly cousin the Many Banded Krait. A Banded Krait should never be handled or approached and neither should the Banded Wolf Snake due to the potential for confusing species. Visit the 'Practical Venomous Snake ID' section of the Snake ID page for tips on identifying some of the more common venomous species.