PREVALENCE: Less common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Mostly active at night
KEY ID FEATURES: Light brown or olive body with dark brown and yellow/white diamond patterns, heavy body and orange on top of the head
BEHAVIOR: Aquatic, may be found perched above deep pools and slow moving streams
SIZE: Medium - 1.5-2m
OTHER: Aggressive if handled, will bite and defecate
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.
Diamond-backed Water Snakes are light brown or olive green with black and whitish yellow diamond markings running the length of the body. Characteristic rusty orange coloration on the top of the head. A heavier bodied species when mature and can grow between 70 and 140cm. Round pupils and a strong set jaw.
Mostly nocturnal Diamond-backed Water Snakes come out at night to hunt fish and occasionally amphibians. They have also been observed out during the day at dusk during heavy rain. Prefer to perch above deep pools on ledges or on overhanging plants, often sharing a spot with other snakes. Quick to bite, musk, defecate and squirm excessively and despite being large enough for bites to inflict some damage they are not considered dangerous to humans.
Found largely in the New Territories the Diamond-backed Water Snake is a less common snake to encounter in Hong Kong. Due to their diet of fresh water prey they can be found most readily near slow moving bodies of water with large deep pools.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: Can be mistaken for some other aquatic snakes but generally not confused with venomous species.