VENOM: Highly dangerous
PREVALENCE: Very common
ACTIVE PERIOD: Active at night
KEY ID FEATURES: Bright green body and yellow belly, triangular head, normally positioned to strike
BEHAVIOR: Ambush predator usually stays still and ready to strike, will bite readily with fast strikes
SIZE: Small/Medium - 40-60cm (males), 60-90cm (females)
OTHER: Can be mistaken with Greater Green Snake
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.
Bright green with yellow belly. Males are smaller than females with a distinctive white stripe above the lip running laterally down the length of the body giving rise to it's formal common name the 'White-Lipped Viper'. Both male and female have characteristically triangular shaped head with yellow/gold eyes containing vertical pupils. Can have orange/brown coloration on the tail.
Active at night and occasionally roosting in bushes during the day. The Bamboo Viper is an ambush predator that will wait in a single position ready to strike. They are a viper and have relatively long retractable fangs and will bite readily at anything that comes within range. Generally not prone to give chase but will hold their ground if they feel cornered. Not actively aggressive but will not hesitate to bite. A bite from a Bamboo Viper should be considered very serious and medical attention should be sought immediately. Although not known to be deadly serious damage can occur from a bite even if treated and complications can always arise. (Click here if the video block does not load: https://youtu.be/DqQ7WdrlzXo)
Found all over Hong Kong, generally in forested areas along open spaces like trails or water culverts where geckos and other prey can be ambushed. Previously not known to position near populated locations with artificial light, this species has been observed by the authors more and more frequently near street lamps and other man made locations.
NO SNAKE SHOULD EVER BE HANDLED BY ANYONE BUT EXPERTS: Often confused with the harmless Greater Green Snake. See that page HERE for comparison details. No viper should ever be approached or handled. If found observe from a safe distance. Visit the 'Practical Venomous Snake ID' section of the Snake ID page for tips on identifying some of the more common venomous species.