Snakes & Sandals

SUMMARY:

  • Adam goes on a solo night walk to see what's out and about
  • Early success brings a Mountain Water Snake 
  • After an uneventful walk thereafter he stumbles on Hong Kong's most venomous snake the Many Banded Krait
  • Overgrown paths and a poor choice of footwear make for an exciting conclusion to the evening

After meeting up with Rob and another friend earlier in the afternoon I decided on a solo trip to an easy walk where we regularly find different species of snakes. Hopping out of the car I decided on a pair of sandals for my footwear as the trail was paved pretty much the whole way and off I went.

Right at the start, not even 100m into the trail I locked onto a snake swimming in a culvert by some weeds and after a little finagling managed to get it out so I could move it further up the path away from the heavy foot traffic and lights around the spot I'd found it. After a quick check it was clear that I had found a Mountain Water Snake. Not hugely common, but I had found them in the area before. They're a nice looking water snake and have distinct banding down the length of the body with juveniles presenting some really cool red and yellow coloration.

 Mountain Water Snake

Mountain Water Snake

However, as a water snake it was very squirmy and eager to bite which he did vigorously as I packed him away for the short walk. More on this little gem in a future story, but in summary I set him on his way and started off on the trail again.

It was an entirely uneventful walk to the end of the trail despite the weather being perfect and tons of prey animals out and about. I assumed I may find something on the walk back but never expected to come face to face with Hong Kong's most venomous snake the Many Banded Krait less than 50m back down the trail.

The encounter was a bit unsettling as the path was more heavily over grown than it normally is and in many places, including near where I found the Krait I couldn't see my feet through the weeds. Had I chosen hiking shoes I'd have been a bit less concerned but my choice of open toe sandals was starting to seem like a bad idea. Nevertheless I managed corral the Krait gently using my long snake hook until he calmed down enough for me to grab some photos and video.

I've seen many 'Many Banded Kraits' in the past but this was the first example of one with yellow coloration on the upper body bands.

  Many Banded Krait  - Yellow Coloration

Many Banded Krait - Yellow Coloration

Rob had mentioned seeing this color variation in the past but I thought it was worth some documenting to help us add to the Many Banded Krait page on HongKongSnakeID.com.

As you can see from the image above the yellow is faint but clearly discernible when compared to a more standard black and white variant of the species like this:

  Many Banded Krait  - Standard Black and White Coloration

Many Banded Krait - Standard Black and White Coloration

Interestingly this standard black and white specimen was found in almost the exact same location as its yellow hued cousin several months prior speaking to both the diversity within species as well as the health of the population in at least this small stretch. 

I also managed to take some video but the coloration is a bit difficult to see given the dark setting. If you are interested to see this one in action despite the poor lighting watch the video starting at the 19sec mark on the Many Banded Krait page.

After a brief photo shoot I watched the yellow Many Banded slither off into the brush and started my walk back satisfied with the find and feeling lucky not to have taken a bite to my exposed toes. Then, about 200m down the trail, just when I had fully settled into this false sense of security I looked down to see ANOTHER Many Banded Krait only a meter or so from my feet slithering at me in full on hunting mode. Fortunately the trail had opened up quite a bit and I had my long snake hook at the ready but just as I was about to give him a nudge he seemed to take notice of my presence and hit the breaks. After an awkward few seconds I took a few steps to the side and waited to see what he would do. As it turns out and is normally the case he decided to slither away from me and down into the shallow culvert running along side the trail with no further incident.

I managed to walk the rest of the way back with no more encounters and plenty of time to reconsider my gear choice for the night, but also a great sense of excitement to get back and process the images I had taken of the yellow Krait.

If you enjoyed this post please share with anyone you think might like to read about our adventures and feel free to leave a comment if you have thoughts or ideas on this or future posts.

For more information on the Many Banded Krait or Mountain Water Snake visit the full write ups at www.HongKongSnakeID.com or check us out on YouTube and Instagram.

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.