VENOM: Very mild - no known danger
PREVALENCE: Somewhat common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Mostly active at night
KEY ID FEATURES: Olive green to black with yellow belly and short stocky body
BEHAVIOR: Aquatic, may be found shallow stagnant water, burrows in mud and known to leap when trying to escape
SIZE: Small - 40-60cm
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.
Plumbeous Water Snakes are black or olive green with with no pattern and yellow bellies. They are small reaching only ~40-50cm with stocky bodies.
Mostly nocturnal Plumbeous Water Snakes come out at night to hunt fish and amphibians. They tend to lay in wait motionless in shallow stagnant water and will also bury into mud. They also display a characteristic jumping when trying to move quickly to escape. Quick to bite, musk, defecate and squirm excessively and despite being thicker bodied they are not considered dangerous to humans. They are mildly venomous but there are no known cases of serious envenomation or reactions in humans.
Found largely in the New Territories and some small islands the Plumbeous Water Snake is a less common snakes to encounter in Hong Kong. Due to their diet of fresh water prey and preference to lay just under the surface of the water they can be found most readily near shallow stagnant bodies of water.
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.