PREVALENCE: Not common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Most active during the day
KEY ID FEATURES: Copper orange neck, checkered body and laterally striped tail, color morphs possible
BEHAVIOR: Generally docile, not known to bite readily but capable of doing so
SIZE: Small - ~60-80cm
OTHER: Color variation within species can occur
QUICK ASSESSMENT 0-10
IMPORTANT: Most snakes can be found to 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.
With a distinct copper orange colored neck the Buff-striped Keelback is a relatively easy snake to identify and is not easily confused with other species in Hong Kong. Generally tan to light olive green with black and white to blue checkering running the length of the body and with lateral strips on the tail, both juvenile and mature specimens exhibit the same colors and patterning with the juveniles showing brighter more defined colors.
Active during the day, the Buff-striped Keelback is relatively uncommon in Hong Kong. It is generally not aggressive and is not normally quick to bite but capable of doing so. Hunt small amphibians during the day.
Usually found in grass lands near water, rice fields and other slow moving bodies of water. This species hunts frogs and toads as its favorite prey. Buff-striped Keelbacks are found all over Hong Kong including Hong Kong Island but are small in number due to habitat loss.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: The Buff-striped Keelback is a unique snake in Hong Kong that is not easily mistaken for any other endemic species. Visit the 'Practical Venomous Snake ID' section of the Snake ID page for tips on identifying some of the more common venomous species.