Teeth Like Knives - The Taiwan Kukri snake in Hong Kong
I am very pleased to have joined with Adam some time ago in the launch and set up of www.hongkongsnakeid.com to help with all things snakes in Hong Kong. Please do have a look, and recommend it to anyone who has a snakey question in Hong Kong. Adam is a keen blogger, so he has the guest spot today (lifted straight off the website), and this is his photo.
The Taiwan Kukri is one of two species of Kukri snake in Hong Kong
They have uniquely evolved rear teeth used for slicing eggs shaped like Kukri knives
Generally docile but not good to handle due to their use of the Kukri teeth
Defensive behaviors observed and recorded here for you to view
Waking up just before dawn after a good sleep I found the clouds starting to clear after a night of light rain. The temperature was up but not oppressive and the humidity was high but tolerable and I decided to go for a hike before it got too hot. I grabbed my gear, hopped in the car and after a short drive I was at the start of the trail I'd chosen for my walk. It was a long muddy trek through the forest before reaching a flat paved walkway and I was thankful to be on solid ground. A generally uneventful trip, I was just about at the end of the trail and ready to turn back to the car when I came across a Taiwan Kukri. It seemed to be a bit cold which I could tell because its color was dark and it was moving slowly. It was the perfect scenario to grab some shots and a little video for HongKongSnakeID.com, and I was happy I took the time to do so.
As you can see this was a good looking specimen with markings and coloration well defined. Some Taiwan Kukri's display stripes running from the head down the back for the first third of the body. They are great burrowers and use their small head and shovel like nose to push through the soil and leaf litter.
Now despite the fact that this snake is good looking, relatively small and generally docile when encountered they are absolutely not to be handled due to their specially modified back teeth. It's these teeth that gives the Kukri snakes their name in that they are large and shaped like a Kukri Knife. They use the modified teeth to slice into eggs, one of their favorite foods, but it has also become an effective defensive tool against predators and unsuspecting snake handlers. Unlike most snakes, instead of biting head on the Kukri will open its mouth and thrash side to side when grabbed delivering slashing cuts with each pass. For the uninformed handler this can be a shocking experience coming from such a diminutive snake.
In addition to the use of its knife-like teeth it is also capable of some more standard defensive behaviours. Here is a video from our YouTube channel showing the Taiwan Kukri in the typical 'S' position as it looks for an opportunity to slither away. (copy and paste this to see the video: https://youtu.be/_I_TfxTCOt0)
After a short photo and video session he decided he'd had enough of me and slowly moved off into the undergrowth leaving us with some great content and a nice story for the blog. Happy viewing and for more information on Hong Kong's Kukri snakes visit the Taiwan and Golden Kukripages on www.HongKongSnakeID.com.
As always the opinions included here are mine and mine alone. You should never handle or approach a snake in the wild and if you are bitten contact emergency services at '999' immediately. See our Practical Venomous Snake ID Guide if you plan to be out and about with nature in Hong Kong, and scroll through the page to obtain more advice on what to do if you are bitten and snake removal services.
SNAKE DIARIES RSS and here are two of my own pictures of the same species at a different occasion.