Do you want to learn about the venomous snakes found in Hong Kong?
If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the MOST COMMON venomous snakes you can expect to see. If I missed any, please leave a COMMENT at the bottom of the page. 🙂
You’ll see that the venomous snakes in Hong Kong are very different from each other. They have different sizes, habitats, and even different types of venom. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people. For each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!
10 Venomous Snakes that Live in Hong Kong:
*If you encounter any of these species, PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB! Venomous snakes are dangerous animals and should be left alone. The more you agitate them, the more likely you could get bitten. DO NOT RELY ON THIS ARTICLE to correctly identify a snake that has recently bitten you, as colors and patterns can vary widely. If you have recently been bitten, GO DIRECTLY to the nearest hospital to get help and to determine if the snake is venomous.*
#1. King Cobra
- Ophiophagus hannah
- Adults are 3-3.6 m (10-12 ft) long, but the largest specimens can grow up to 5.4 m (18 ft).
- Their coloring is olive green with black and white bands on the body.
- They have a prominent hood that opens in a defensive stance and a rounded nose.
The King Cobra is the longest venomous snake in Hong Kong.
Despite its size, this species is not considered particularly aggressive. It usually avoids humans and slinks off when disturbed. However, it is known to defend incubating eggs aggressively and strikes intruders rapidly. A single attack can deliver multiple bites.
Interestingly, the venom of hatchlings is as potent as the adults’. The babies are brightly marked, but these colors often fade as they mature. In addition, they are often nervous and alert, which makes them highly aggressive if disturbed.
Whether you encounter a juvenile or an adult, giving this dangerous snake a lot of space is recommended. Its bite results in excruciating pain, blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, and even paralysis. If the bite victim doesn’t receive medical help, they can die from cardiovascular and respiratory failure within 30 minutes of the bite. Stay back!
#2. Chinese Sea Krait
- Laticauda semifasciata
Also known as Black-banded Sea Krait and the Chinese Sea Snake.
- Adults are thick-bodied, about 170 cm (67 in) long on average.
- Designed for underwater exploration, this snake has a short, flattened head and a boneless tail that spreads widely like a majestic fin.
- Some specimens are uniform-colored, while some have prominent dark bands along their bodies.
In the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, the Chinese Sea Krait makes its home. While this venomous species is usually found in southern Asia, scientists have made a remarkable discovery. Due to climate change and habitat deterioration, the Chinese Sea Krait has been venturing farther north beyond its usual territories, even appearing in Russia once!
The Chinese Sea Krait is living proof of nature’s incredible adaptability. Unable to chase fish in open water due to its slower speed, it cunningly forms an alliance with the more agile Bluefin Trevally (fish). Together, they flush out prey from narrow cracks in the reefs, sharing the spoils afterward.
Though you’ll rarely encounter this sea serpent, be careful anyway when you’re out for a swim. The Chinese Sea Krait’s venom is ten times more potent than a cobra’s, swiftly paralyzing its prey.
#3. Peron’s Sea Snake
- Hydrophis peronii
Also known as Horned Sea Snake, Spiny-headed Sea Snake.
- This is a medium-sized snake with a slender body. It can grow up to 123 cm (48.4 in) from snout to vent.
- Its back is grayish, pale olive, or tan with narrow dark crossbands.
- It’s the only sea snake that has spines on its head.
Peron’s Sea Snakes reside in the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, staying close to sandy beds, lagoons, and coral reefs. Although it’s a rare species to find, divers in Hong Kong have occasionally spotted these venomous snakes skimming the water’s surface.
One cool trait of Peron’s Sea Snake is that it can shut its nostrils underwater and hold its breath for up to eight hours! In fact, these calm and docile creatures frequently fall asleep at the bottom of coral reefs, having no natural enemies in their environment.
Their diet consists of shrimps, gobies, and other small fish. Peron’s Sea Snakes prefer to hunt at night, using their venom to immobilize their prey. Luckily, they have small fangs, meaning they can only deliver small amounts of poison when they bite. Regardless, seek medical treatment if you get bitten!
#4. White-lipped Pit Viper
- Trimeresurus albolabris
Also known as Green Tree Pit Viper and White-lipped Bamboo Pit Viper.
- Males are 60 cm (24 in) long. They also have light-colored side stripes, which the females lack.
- Females are 81 cm (32 in) long.
- Their coloring is green on the upper body, with lighter shades of yellow, light green, or white on the belly and sides of the head.
The White-lipped Pit Viper is a dangerous venomous snake in Hong Kong.
Their preferred habitat is shrublands, agricultural areas, forests, and suburban gardens. These vipers are ambush predators that wait for small mammals, birds, and frogs to come by. When a meal gets close, they attack, injecting venom until the prey dies.
White-lipped Vipers are solitary and most active at night, which helps them to avoid hunting during high temperatures. They prefer cooler weather because it’s easier to use their heat-sensitive pits. These organs pick up the body heat of animals, but that heat can be hard to distinguish on warmer nights.
The White-lipped Pit Viper has hemotoxic venom, which can cause various symptoms. Some people report only mild irritation, but this snake’s bite can cause pain, blood clots, and death if left untreated.
#5. Many-banded Krait
- Bungarus multicinctus
Also known as the Chinese Krait or the Taiwanese Krait.
- Adults are 1-1.5 m (3-5 ft) long. The record length is 1.85 m (6.1 ft).
- Its body is slim and slightly compressed on the sides, with the spine visible on top.
- Their coloring is dark bluish-black with white cross bands along the back.
Look for the Many-banded Krait in shrublands, agricultural fields, woodlands, suburban areas, and villages. It often makes its home inside abandoned buildings. This species prefers to stay close to water, so pay close attention to rice paddies, ditches, and riverbanks.
It’s best to keep your distance from this dangerous snake in Hong Kong.
Many-banded Kraits have strong jaws and can twist sharply, landing a bite even when held behind the head. It can take up to an hour to show symptoms of a bite, by which time there can be lethal consequences. So if you see one in the wild, it should be left alone.
#6. Chinese Green Tree Viper
- Trimeresurus stejnegeri
Also known as the Chinese Pit Viper, Bamboo Viper, and Chinese Tree Viper.
- Adults grow up to 90 cm (35 in) long.
- They have triangular heads, noticeably red eyes, and bright green coloring. The end of the tail is brick red.
- A thin white line runs down the sides, and males also have a red line in the same spot.
Don’t let this snake’s bright coloring and slow movements fool you; it’s aggressive, dangerous, and venomous!
The Chinese Green Tree Viper prefers moist environments and often lives in cultivated farmland. Luckily, it’s rare to stumble on an active individual because they spend their days sleeping, preferring to hunt at night. This species eats rodents, frogs, birds, and other snakes.
If you see one of these venomous snakes in Hong Kong, back up slowly and give it plenty of space as you leave the area.
The Chinese Green Tree Viper’s venom is potent, and its bite can be lethal without medical attention. The symptoms include an extremely painful wound, often compared to being branded with a hot iron. The pain can last for up to 24 hours after the bite. Within a few minutes of being bitten, the hemotoxic venom breaks down blood and tissue, causing swelling and necrosis.
#7. Chinese Cobra
- Naja atra
Also known as Taiwan Cobra.
- Adults are 1.2-1.5 m (4-5 ft) long.
- Their coloring is iridescent black overall, with several white or yellow lines on the body and a white throat.
- They have the prominent fanned hood typical of a cobra species.
The Chinese Cobra is one of the most venomous snakes in Hong Kong.
Its typical habitat is shrublands and mangroves. However, it’s highly adaptable to a wide range of terrain, including grassland plains, open fields, jungle, and even heavily populated regions. The only habitat it avoids is dark forests with a closed canopy.
The Chinese Cobra has a varied diet and hunts both night and day, so you can see this species at any time. Unfortunately, this makes it even more dangerous for people who are caught unaware. Many accidentally stumble upon a Chinese Cobra and are bitten before they notice the snake.
This species’ highly venomous bite contains cardiotoxins, which damage the heart and muscles, and neurotoxins, which damage the brain and nerves. This combination causes life-threatening symptoms, including necrosis, chest pain, fever, lockjaw, and difficulty breathing. Fortunately, antivenom is widely available, so seek immediate treatment if you’re bitten.
#8. Banded Krait
- Bungarus fasciatus
- Adults are about 0.8 m (2.6 ft) long, but the largest recorded was 2.7 m (9 ft).
- Its body is covered in horizontal yellow and black bands. The underparts of the head are yellow.
- The head is black, with a broad shape, but not distinct from the body. Look for its distinctive keeled spine, which gives its body a triangular shape.
The Banded Krait’s venom contains neurotoxins, and though bites are rare, it’s best to avoid this venomous snake in Hong Kong.
Banded Kraits can be seen in diverse habitats, ranging from forests to agricultural lands and open countryside plains. They often live near human settlements, especially villages, because of the large supply of rodents and water.
Due to their love of water, they can most commonly be seen during rainy seasons. They are also nocturnal and usually hunt at night, mainly feeding on other snakes but are also known to eat fish, skinks, frogs, and snake eggs.
If harassed, they will hide their heads under their coils and do not generally attempt to bite. But, since they are more active at night, it can be easy to stumble upon one and wind up in danger.
#9. Golden Tree Snake
- Chrysopelea ornata
- Adults are 115-130 cm (45-51 in) long.
- Their coloring is green, with black cross-hatching and yellow, red, or gold accents.
- They have slender bodies and flat heads with defined necks.
Golden Tree Snakes hunt for bats, lizards, and small rodents during the day. This species is an arboreal snake that lives mostly on tree branches. It has great gliding ability and is an excellent climber, easily moving from tree to tree.
It is mildly venomous and uses its venom to subdue its fast-moving prey. The snake stalks after the prey once it’s delivered a bite and seizes it by the neck, which is crushed in its strong jaws. Because their venom is mild, a bite from this species can be irritating and painful to humans but is not life-threatening.
Golden Tree Snakes have become increasingly available in the exotic pet trade in recent years. Unfortunately, many imported specimens have heavy parasite loads, and the stress of captivity often leads to untimely death. It’s much better to observe this species in the wild since it does poorly in captivity.
#10. Oriental Whipsnake
- Ahaetulla prasina
- Adults grow up to 1.8 m (6 ft) long.
- This species has a slender body with a long, pointed snout.
- Their coloring varies from light brown to dull yellow-green and fluorescent green. Some individuals have a checkered pattern of light and dark green scales.
Oriental Whipsnakes are mildly venomous, but the toxins are not strong enough to hurt humans in Hong Kong. If you see one, observe from a respectful distance, but you don’t need to rush away.
The Oriental Whipsnake is one of the most colorful snakes in Hong Kong! Its impressive range of colors makes it difficult to recognize because individuals look so different from one another. However, the slender body and incredibly large, spade-shaped head should help with your identification.
This species is arboreal and usually lives in forest edge habitats such as parklands, rural agricultural areas, and wooded residential areas. It’s also a diurnal snake, so the best place to find one is sunbathing or hunting during the day. They eat small nesting birds, lizards, and tree frogs.
Do you want to learn about other animals in Hong Kong?
If so, check out these guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Hong Kong?
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