- We find a Mock Viper stuck in a storm drain and get a chance to film it
- Mock Vipers have a viper-shaped head which gives them their name
- They also display viper like defensive behavior but are rear fanged with an extremely mild venom that is not known to be dangerous to humans
Rob and I decided to go for a hike to a location where it was not uncommon to find diurnal snakes, and because it was due to heat up quickly we made sure to get out early before the rising temperature drove the snakes into hiding to cool down. Full disclosure, despite the Mock Viper being one of the more common snakes in Hong Kong I had never seen one in the field. Rob was always amazed by this given the number he has seen over the years and assured me the day would soon come. It turns out prophet Rob was right as we stumbled across a good sized beautifully patterned Mock in a shallow storm drain next to the path.
We did of course eventually help the little viper imposter out but managed to first spend some time observing, photographing and videoing our encounter.
The first thing that struck me was how convincingly our new friend displayed viperish defensive behavior moving into a flattened out 'S' position and striking at the air. This could certainly cause alarm for the uninformed hiker that hasn't yet discovered www.HongKongSnakeID.com (shameless plug), but for us it was fascinating to watch. Then we got a little surprise when the Mock started 'jumping' in an attempt to get away! It would literally lunge its entire body a couple of inches off the ground and flop down a few inches forward anytime we tried to extract it. I can imagine how shocking this could be if it did this as part of its biting defense, but as an escape tactic it was great fun to see. Unfortunately we didn't get any of the Mock's acrobatics on film but did manage to get a few seconds of it slithering in the drain. Have a watch here and notice the twitchy movements of the head and body: (click if video box does not display: https://youtu.be/R3-LO2dzNMY)
As you can see Mock Vipers are gregarious fun snakes to observe, but please also bear in mind that despite them not being dangerous to humans, Mock Vipers are technically rear fanged and venomous. There are no known cases of serious envenomation from this species but allergic reactions are always possible as well as infections so be sure to watch these nippy snakes from a distance if you find one in the wild.
As always the opinions included here are solely those of the author. You should never handle or approach a snake in the wild and if you are bitten contact emergency services at '999' immediately. See our Practical Venomous Snake ID Guide if you plan to be out and about with nature in Hong Kong, and scroll through the page to obtain more advice on what to do if you are bitten as well as for snake removal services.