PREVALENCE: Not common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Most active during the day
KEY ID FEATURES: Bright yellow, with black blotches from neck to past mid section with black and yellow striped tail
BEHAVIOR: Large and readily willing to bite, but will almost always try to flee when encountered
SIZE: Large - 2m+
OTHER: Small localized population in one area
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.
Large at over 2m when mature, the Taiwan Beauty Snake is thought to be a species introduced to Hong Kong through the pet trade, though there is no direct proof of this. Very distinct in appearance the Taiwan Beauty Snake is bright yellow with black blotches covering the first two thirds of its body then transitioning to a black and yellow striped tail. Size is similar to a full grown Common Rat Snake with markings and head shape somewhat similar in appearance to the Copper Head Racer.
The Taiwan Beauty Snake will puff up their neck when threatened. The neck expands vertically making them look taller rather than displaying the notorious 'hood' seen on cobra species. A harmless defensive tactic but can be unsettling for the inexperienced. These snakes will almost always flee if they sense you approaching and despite a bite from a mature specimen being painful they pose almost no danger to humans and have no venom. As a diurnal species the Taiwan Beauty Snake is most active during the day spending most of its time on the ground hunting but is also capable of climbing trees where it can occasionally be found resting at night. Due to its size the Taiwan Beauty Snake is thought to predate on small mammals and possibly birds in Hong Kong when mature.
Taiwan Beauty Snakes are in one small localized spot in Hong Kong and have not been observed outside of this area except for one specimen which was outside but not extremely far from the know breeding populations. They tend to be found at medium elevations of 200-500m in heavily forested areas.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: The Taiwan Beauty Snake is relatively unique in pattern and color though the overall size and shape can be loosely similar to Common Rat Snakes when mature, or Copperhead Racers for subadults. Due to their propensity to bite they should be observed at a distance and never approached or handled, though, as with Rat Snakes they would be hard to catch even if you tried.