Total length Average 40 - 45 cm, can reach 60 cm
Description Back purplish, reddish or dark brown, with light grey spots.
An additional lighter colour phase exist:
Back tan yellow, with irregular darker spots and two light-coloured lateral stripes extending from neck to tail.
Young snakes may be either the dark or the light colour phase.
Ventrals brown, with pale speckles.
Head angular somewhat like a viper, with pale lines forming a "V" on top.
A broad reddish stripe may be present on the underside of body.
Dorsal scales smooth.
Mildly venomous with rear fangs, harmless to humans.
Secondary forest in hilly areas, also shrubland or grassland.
Behaviour Diurnal. Prowls by day and occasionally basks in the sun or hides under objects.
May perched on bushes over streams at night.
A fierce-looking snake, sometimes strikes and bites when provoked, but mostly bluffs by assuming the S-shaped stance of a true viper ready to strike.
Diet In captivity feeds on frogs, geckoes and skinks. Will eat small snakes occasionally.
Reproduction Viviparous, giving birth to 3-10 young. Young snake about 15 cm in total length.
Distribution In Hong Kong, generally uncommon. Recorded from various localities on Hong Kong Island, New Territories and Lantau Island.
Also recorded from Shek Kwu Chau, the only local occurrence on a small island.
Ranges from India to southern China including Taiwan, and south throughout Malay Peninsula to Indonesia.
Conservation Status IUCN Redlist: NE (Not Evaluated)