Do you want to learn about the venomous snakes found in Taiwan?
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 Taiwan 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!
7 Venomous Snakes that Live in Taiwan:
*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. Chinese Moccasin
- Deinagkistrodon acutus
Also known as Chinese Copperhead, Five-pacer, Hundred-Pacer, Hundred-pace Snake, Long-nosed Pit Viper, Sharp-nosed Viper, and Snorkel Viper.
- These stout snakes measure between 80-157 cm (31-62 in), with males larger than females.
- They are commonly light to grayish brown, adorned with alternating dark brown triangles along their bodies.
- The head is distinctively triangular, black on top and cream-colored on the undersides.
The venomous Chinese Moccasin slithers in Taiwan through lush forests and rocky hills.
Locals nicknamed it the “Hundred Pacer,” believing that if you get bitten, you could only take 100 steps before meeting your fate! Although that tale is not scientifically proven, fatalities caused by this snake’s bite are not uncommon, so keep your distance!
The Chinese Moccasin has a diverse palate. It feasts on small mammals, birds, toads, frogs, and even lizards. As an ambush predator, this snake waits patiently coiled for hours, ready to strike with lightning speed at unsuspecting victims. Plus, it’s equipped with heat-sensing pits to detect both its prey and predators in the dark.
Of course, this viper is not just a venomous villain. Since ancient times, people in China have used the venom of the Chinese Moccasin as medicine against arthritis and stroke, among other ailments. And as science advances, glimpses of its potential in cancer treatment have emerged.
#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 Taiwan 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. 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 Taiwan.
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.
#5. 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 Taiwan, 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.
#6. 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 Taiwan.
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.
#7. Tiger Keelback
- Rhabdophis tigrinus
- Adults are 60–100 cm (24–39 in) long.
- Their coloring is checkered olive green and black with orange, yellow, or red crossbars on the first third of the body.
- The underside is white to cream.
Tiger Keelbacks are highly venomous, but they don’t produce their own toxins. Instead, they ingest and reuse toxins from the toads they eat. Once they eat the toad, they store its toxins in the nuchal glands and use them as a defensive mechanism. That’s one way to ensure you use every part of your prey!
The Tiger Keelback uses its tongue as much as its vision to hunt for prey. This is because it has sensitive receptors that react to chemicals in its prey, leading it directly to its next meal. This ability is why you may have heard that some snakes in Taiwan can “smell” with their tongues!
This species is sensitive to colder temperatures and is less likely to run away when the weather is cold. So, be alert of your surroundings in cooler seasons to ensure you don’t run afoul of the Tiger Keelback. In warmer weather, it’s more likely to flee than to try and fight.
Do you want to learn about other animals in Taiwan?
If so, check out these guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Taiwan?
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