ACTIVE PERIOD: Active at night
KEY ID FEATURES: White and black banding with black bands thick at the top and evening out at the tail
BEHAVIOR: Hunts on the ground at night, moves slow but capable of aggressive strikes if surprised, generally will flee
SIZE: Small/Medium - ~1.5M
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 black and white banding with thick black bands towards the head gradually reducing in width to match the white bands toward the tail. Small unassuming head only slightly wider than the neck with a slender body reaching approximately 2-3cm in diameter and around 1 meter long. Some color variation has been observed with examples of white banding taking on a yellow color especially toward the upper portion of the body.
Active at night and mainly hunts other snakes. Generally docile when approached they are capable of striking from multiple directions and will normally do so without taking much of a defensive stance which can be surprising. Normally slow and deliberate in their movement they are capable of moving quickly if fleeing. This species is also known to have a jaw capable of twisting sharply even when held behind the head increasing the risk of a bite. As the most venomous snake in Hong Kong the Many Banded Krait should never be approached. Its venom is notorious for its delayed effect often taking over an hour before symptoms present leading many bite victims to assume they were not envenomated. (Click here if the video block does not https://youtu.be/eck9bb1LuxI)
The Many Banded Krait is a terrestrial species often hunting in water culverts, by trail sides and by abandoned structures in forested areas. It can be found all over Hong Kong including Hong Kong Island. A less common encounter for most given its nocturnal nature, it is possible 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 Many Banded Krait can be confused with both the Banded and Futsing Wolf Snakes, both of which are harmless species. A Many Banded Krait should never be handled or approached and neither should the Banded and Futsing Wolf snakes due to the potential for confusing species. A well known herpetologist (reptile and amphibian scientist) was famously killed when reaching into a bag labeled as housing a Wolf Snake which was unfortunately a misidentified Krait. Due to his remote location he died in the field as a result of his envenomation. A Mainland Chinese women was also bitten by a Many Banded Krait she bought online and rendered braindead as a result as recently as July of 2018. Visit the 'Practical Venomous Snake ID' section of the Snake ID page for tips on identifying some of the more common venomous species.