PREVALENCE: Very common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Most active during the day
KEY ID FEATURES: Bright green body with yellow belly, round pupil with long slender head
BEHAVIOR: Moderately fast with docile nature, not prone to bite, roosts in trees at night while hunting on ground during day
SIZE: Small/Medium - 1m+
OTHER: Can be mistaken with Bamboo Viper
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 virtually no color variation all Greater Greens are bright green on top with yellow bellies. Not usually exceeding 1 meter in length, they have long slender bodies and long narrow heads with relatively large eyes and round pupils.
Greater Green's are active during the day hunting various prey but largely consume earth worms necessarily meaning that they spend a lot of time on the ground. However, at night they commonly roost high up in trees or up in bushes or long grass in heavily vegetated areas. They are a docile snake when encountered but capable of quickly slithering away. Not prone to bite but they are capable of doing so as well as secreting a smelly musk on occasion. A bite from a Greater Green is completely harmless and may not even draw blood due to their small head size.
Found all over Hong Kong the Greater Green is one of the most common snakes to encounter in Hong Kong. Due to their diet of worms they can be found almost anywhere there is water, vegetation, soft ground and or leaf litter/rotting logs.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: One of the more unfortunate scenarios, the Greater Green is often mistaken for one of Hong Kong's other common species the White Lipped Viper aka The Bamboo Viper. As a result of this similarity Greater Green's are sometimes killed when encountered out of fear, despite their completely harmless nature. Key distinctions between the two are first their active period with Greater Green's out during the day and the Bamboo Viper at night, long slender head with round pupils on the Greater Green vs a bigger triangular head with vertical pupils on the Viper, propensity to flee of the Greater Green vs the Viper which will take a defensive 'S' position and usually hold it's ground, and at least in male Bamboo Vipers a distinct white line running from its upper lip down the length of its body, which is where the formal common name 'White-Lipped Viper' comes from. With that said, as with all snakes Greater Green's should never be handled by anyone other than experts due to its similarity to the Bamboo Viper, and any information provided here cannot garauntee accurate identification for the inexperienced.