PREVALENCE: Somewhat common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Active at night
KEY ID FEATURES: Tan to dark brown with darker lateral and dorsal stripes running the length of the body
BEHAVIOR: Aquatic, rarely found outside of water, fast to swim away, not considered dangerous
SIZE: Small - 60-80cm
OTHER: Can be mistaken with other aquatic snakes
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.
A typical aquatic snake, the Striped Stream Snake has evolved with eyes and nostrils placed towards the top of the head and a narrow snout that helps with foraging under rocks. Ranging in color from tan to dark brown with dark lateral stripes running the length of the body. Two contiguous stripes run on either side of the spine with a broken line running directly down the middle of the spine. Stripes are often faded and can be barely visible on adults. Scales are heavily keeled the length of the body with strong occipital (head) scales and labial (mouth) scales which help protect the head from damage when foraging under rocks. Another unique feature to this species is that each of its scales are covered in microscopic grooves that maybe helpful in channeling water along the body.
Nocturnal, the Striped Stream Snake is often found in or immediately next to slow and fast moving bodies of water. Quick to flee into the water and hide under rocks, they are difficult to catch or observe. As with most water snakes they will squirm vigorously if handled but are not quick to bite. They do however have a tendency to musk and defecate if grabbed.
Generally found on Lantau and the New Territories near streams and catch waters, the Striped Stream Snake is not know to be widely distributed around Hong Kong.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: Can be mistaken for other water snakes though generally not easily confused with venomous species.