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Australia Snakes Species Profiles

Inland Taipan – The Most Venomous Snake in the World

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Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Green Cascade Frog – Hong Kong Wildlife | 大綠蛙 – 香港野生動物

The Green cascade frog, also known as Chloronate huia frog or Copper-cheeked frog, is a species of true frog (family Ranidae). As a matter of fact, many frog-like amphibians in Hong Kong are not true frogs.

Being quite large in size, bright green all over the back, and can make bigger jumps than most other local frogs, this is a frog you don’t easily misidentify when you come across one. I often find them in the same habitats with the very common Whipping frogs, Banded bullfrogs, Black-spined toads, and Hong Kong newts.

This species is also found in other parts of China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and possibly Bangladesh and Nepal.

Sorry for poor quality – it’s from a video I was recording the jump

Odorrana chloronota (Günther, 1875)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Odorrana
Species: chloronota

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大綠蛙廣泛分布於香港的山溪

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Blind Snake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 盲蛇 – 香港野生動物

This 4-inch noodle I found in my backyard is a fully-grown blind snake — one of the smallest snakes in the world.

Eyesight is never an important sense of snakes. But most snakes do see and have exposed, visible eyeballs. However, as the name suggests, blind snakes are completely blind. The eyes can’t form images, but can still register light intensity, and are barely discernible as tiny dots under head translucent scales. In some blind snakes, you even can’t see the dots, like this one in my picture.

Pretty common but you don’t often see them because they are totally fossorial animals living underground. That’s why being blind won’t bother them at all.

There are 3 blind snakes in Hong Kong:

  1. Brahminy blind snake or locally called Common blind snake (Indotyphlops braminus) is native to most of Asia and Africa. It has been introduced to Australia and throughout most of the Americas.
    鉤盲蛇
  2. White-headed blind snake (Indotyphlops albiceps) is a less common species of blind snake.
    白頭鈎盲蛇
  3. Hong Kong blind snake or Lazell’s blind snake (Indotyphlops lazelli) is a little-known species endemic to Hong Kong, first described in 2004.
    香港盲蛇

Indotyphlops (Ramphotyphlops) braminus (Daudin, 1803)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Typhlopidae
Genus: Indotyphlops
Species: braminus

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Asia Snakes Species Profiles

Sunda Island Pit Viper (Trimeresurus insularis)

The Komodo dragon is not the only animal in Komodo Island that makes me visit over and over again. This snake has always been the second sought-after species in my previous trips to Komodo Island.

The Sunda Island pitviper (a.k.a. Lesser Sunda Island pit viper, White-lipped island pit viper, or Blue insularis viper) is native to Komodo and some nearby Indonesian islands such as Bali, Flores, Lombok, Padar, Rinca, eastern Java, Adonara, Alor, Romang, Roti, Sumba, Sumbawa, Wetar, and also Timor of East Timor.

Although mostly turquoise or blue, some snakes of this species can be bright green or bright yellow. Interestingly, some blue individuals are born green and turn into blue in a year or two. No doubt, this species has the most outstanding colors of all 50 species of Asian pit vipers (Trimeresurus) while 90% of the species in the genus are green such as the Bamboo pit viper. A few species are very dark to almost black such as the Mangrove pit viper.

Trimeresurus insularis (Kramer, 1977)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: (Cryptelytrops) Trimeresurus
Species: insularis

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Asia Snakes Species Profiles

Mangrove Pit Viper (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus)

Taking close-up photos of venomous snakes is always my kind of adrenaline booster. This one was even more exciting with me knowing the fact that there’s no antivenin specifically made for this snake. Bites are treated with polyvalent antivenin in SE Asian hospitals.

The Mangrove pit viper (a.k.a. Mangrove viper, Shore pit viper, or Purple-spotted pit viper) is a small venomous snake growing to 66-90 centimeters (26-35 in). It is native to Singapore, West Malaysia, Sumatra and Java of Indonesia, Thailand, India, Burma, and Bangladesh.

You don’t always have to be the brightest one to stand out from the crowd. Take a look at this dark horse.

It may look black to the untrained eye. But if you look carefully it is a very dark purple hue, hence its Latin name purpureomaculatus. You may think that with such a dark color this must be a subtle snake trying to look just like most other snakes. But it is in fact so special being the darkest species in its genus (Asian pit vipers – Trimeresurus).

Being dark is rare, while all its cousins are bright.

Although few exceptional ones can be bright yellow or bright blue such as the Sunda Island pit viper, over 90% of species in this genus are bright green, including the Bamboo pit viper which is the most common species in the genus and was also described by British zoologist John Edward Gray. Even though it is more well-known than other Asian pit vipers nowadays, back then it was first known to science a good decade after the much more subtle-looking Mangrove pit viper was. The dark color didn’t help much from being discovered. This is the fifth species to be described (1832) in the entire genus of 50 species of Asian pit vipers.

There used to be 2 subspecies – this one (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus purpureomaculatus) and another one that is endemic to the Andaman Islands of India (Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus andersoni) which is now separated and classified as a full species named Andaman pit viper (Trimeresurus andersonii) a.k.a. Nicobar mangrove pit viper or Anderson’s pitviper.

Trimeresurus purpureomaculatus (Gray, 1832)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: (Cryptelytrops) Trimeresurus
Species: purpureomaculatus

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Common Wolf Snake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 白環蛇 – 香港野生動物

Not only pet snakes can have designer morphs.

The Wolf Snake is native to a large range of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Individuals of the same species from different locations appear to be very different. Patterns can be variable from patches, collars to bands. Coloration also varies from black, brownish, grayish, olive, to yellowish, pearl white and iridescent. It’s a result of divergent evolution.

It’s similar to how pet snakes got all the non-normal patterns and colors (morphs) generations after generations.

Lycodon aulicus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Lycodon
Species: aulicus

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Asia HK Species Profiles Turtles

Big-headed Turtle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 大頭龜 – 香港野生動物

Days of rainstorm brought this little fella to the mountain stream behind my backyard.

Not an easy find — the Big-headed turtle is a lesser-known endangered species native to Hong Kong, China, and SE Asia.

It is nocturnal and lives in and around mountain streams with fast-running water. Not a slow turtle at all. It is fast and can climb vertically like a master rock climber.

Platysternon megacephalum (Gray, 1831)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Platysternidae
Genus: Platysternon
Species: megacephalum

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

大頭龜, 鷹咀龜, 平胸龜, 鸚鵡龜

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Asia HK Mammals Species Profiles

Hong Kong Monkeys | 香港獼猴 – 香港野生動物

There are around 1,800 wild monkeys in Hong Kong, in 30 social troops. None of them are native to Hong Kong. They were all introduced. There are 2 species – the Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta), Long-tailed Macaque or crab-eating macaque (Macaca fascicularis), and their hybrids. Stable populations reside in country parks such as Kam Shan (Monkey Hill), Lion Rock, and Shing Mun.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus: Macaca (Lacépède, 1799)

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獼猴, 長尾獼猴, 恆河猴, 西藏短尾猴, 藏酋猴, 馬騮, 野猴

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Africa Americas Asia Australia Europe HK Mammals Species Profiles

Wild Boar – Hong Kong Wildlife | 野豬 – 香港野生動物

The Wild boars (Sus scrofa) is also known as wild swine, common wild pig, or simply wild pig.

Sus scrofa (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Suidae
Genus: Sus
Species: scrofa

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

野豬, 山豬

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Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Short-legged Horned Toad – Hong Kong Wildlife | 短腳角蟾 – 香港野生動物

If you will ask “What is a horned toad?”

  1. Most people will have zero ideas.
  2. Those who are into herpetology or herpetoculture will easily name the horned lizards (Phrynosoma sp) which are commonly known as horned toads, even though they are some North American lizards, not toads.
  3. Some may think of the much more well-known horned frogs from South America (Ceratophrys sp). Not toads either.
  4. Only very few people know about this one to be genuinely called horned toads.

But don’t be too serious. Common names of animals are rarely preciously accurate. That is why scientific names are to matter.

The Short-legged horned toad (Megophrys (Xenophrys) brachykolos) is also known as Peak spadefoot toad because it was first discovered in the Victoria Peak (locally known as The Peak), Hong Kong.

Its subtleness comes from its discreteness – It is a tiny little toad growing to less than 40-48 mm that burrows a lot and it is far from common. They are not easy to find at all!

Not to be confused with the common toad you can easily find, this species is pretty rare – Out of all 23 amphibian species of Hong Kong, there are only 3 endangered species – Hong Kong cascade frog (Amolops hongkongensis) 香港湍蛙, the most well-known Romer’s tree frog (Liuixalus romeri) 盧文氏樹蛙, and this toad.

Previously thought to be a subspecies of the Little horned toad (Megophrys minor). But molecular genetic evidence now supports its full species status. The 2 species are obviously different. The Little horned toad is absent in Hong Kong but much more common in southern China and Southeast Asia.

Not an endemic species – Other than Hong Kong, it can also be found in southern China and Vietnam. But it is hardly known outside Hong Kong. To be fair, it is even not known to most people in Hong Kong.

Megophrys brachykolos (Inger and Romer, 1961)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Megophryidae
Genus: Megophrys
Species: brachykolos

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

短腳角蟾, 短肢角蟾