PREVALENCE: Somewhat common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Most active during the day
KEY ID FEATURES: Brown, copper, grey or tan with black stripes from head to mid section fading towards the tail
BEHAVIOR: Very fast and readily willing to bite, but will almost always try to flee when encountered
SIZE: Medium - 1.5-2m
OTHER: Defensive display can be alarming
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.
Can be brown, copper, grey or tan in color with black lateral stripes on the upper half of the body and a lateral stripe from mid section fading out towards the tail. A lean snake, the Copperhead Racer is slender relative to its length and when fully grown will be ~3cm in diameter at upwards of 2+ meters long. Medium to large sized round eyes with round pupils on a slender head usually flat color on top with black vertical stripes over the eyes.
The Copperhead Racer will puff up their neck when threatened. The neck expands vertically making them look taller rather than displaying the notorious 'hood' seen on cobra species. A harmless defensive tactic but can be unsettling for the inexperienced. These snakes will almost always flee extremely quickly if they sense you approaching and despite a bite from a mature specimen being a bit painful they pose almost no danger to humans and have no venom. They have also been observed to play dead, rolling onto their back and opening their mount. They will stay in this position even if handled for short periods of time but will flee quickly if they feel they have an opportunity. (If the video does not load click on this link: Copperhead Racer Video)
Copperhead Racers are found all over Hong Kong including Hong Kong Island. They eat rodents, lizards and occasionally birds and as such can be found in grassy and rocky overgrown open spaces well as jogging trails, though they tend not to be found heavily forested or highly elevated areas. Active during the day they are not uncommon to encounter in Hong Kong.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: Copperhead Racer is relatively unique in pattern and color though the overall size and shape can be loosely similar to some cobras. Because of this and their propensity to bite they should be observed at a distance and never approached or handled, though, as with Rat Snakes they would be hard to catch even if you tried.