Sai Kung snake catcher Dave Willott warns residents to be aware at all times. Think what might be under that rock or in that woodpile. Never wear sandals on bush trails. Have brain in gear when gardening.
In a month or two the usual summer reports of python attacks will come in. The story in the past week of an Indonesian man swallowed by a constrictor shocked many who saw the video. Some excitable types speculated about what had really happened to the hikers who have gone missing in Hong Kong hills and their bodies never found…
Hong Kong’s most dangerous snakes in summary with thanks to the University of Hong Kong
Length up to 165cm. Usually grey-black, but can be brown, even golden. Common in Hong Kong even close to homes. Usually nocturnal and often seen at dusk. Hides under objects sometimes. When disturbed it rears up, expands its hood and can hiss.
Category 4 deadly snake. Its venom can kill you in 15 hours. “Earlier,” says Dave. Black with yellow bands. Nocturnal, may be seen at dusk. Timid and tame. Alert after dark.
Category 4. Black with white cross bands. Bite can cause respiratory paralysis and heart failure. Unsafe to hold, even if it’s dead.
POINTED SCALE PIT VIPER
Rare in Hong Kong. But Dave says he has found four dead ones at Kei Ling Ha. Dangerous because it is fierce and can strike from a long distance. Brown or reddish brown with a wavy pattern of purple blotches. Up to 130cm long. Mostly nocturnal.
Rare. Reddish brown with thin black crossbars. Potent neurotoxic venom. Often hides in leaves on a forest floor. Up to 80cm. Nocturnal, tame and secretive.
Common in Sai Kung. Active during the day. Olive green with red patch on neck. Dangerous, but most bites are by its front teeth, which are not dangerous. It’s the back fangs that have lethal venom. Not usually aggressive.
BAMBOO PIT VIPER
These snakes are responsible for the great majority of bites in Hong Kong because they are sedentary. However, they have a very fast strike. Nocturnal and seen at dusk. It is the least venomous of the venomous snakes. Bite causes pain, swelling and local necrosis. You should go to hospital.
Yellowish or greyish with large brown blotches that form patterns. Good swimmer. Kills by constriction. Bite can cause severe lacerations. They range widely: One radio-tracked female covered 12 hectares in 24 hours. Up to six metres. Powerful and can be vicious. Feeds on birds and small mammals. Attacks on dogs have occurred in the Sai Kung summer and the government has put up signs in some locations warning people to protect children and pets.