Lycodon rufozonatus

Red-banded Snake

紅 斑蛇 (hong2ban1she2)

Status: Not protected


Colubridae, subfamily Lycodontinae
Max. length
160 cm
Occurrence in Taiwan
Widely distributed on Taiwan and Matsu, up to 2000 m altitude. Common.
Global Distribution
Japan (Tsushima, Ryukyu Is.), Korea, E China (absent only from Inner Mongolia west to Xinjiang and Tibet), Taiwan, Laos, N. Vietnam, S. Primorskye Kray (Russian Far East)
Medium-sized snake; total length up to 160 cm. There are 15-21 (17 at mid-body) rows of scales, which are smooth, glossy or iridescent. Head is broad, roughly triangular; body is slender to moderately stout, round; tail is long. Eye is medium-sized, near top of head, and bulging; iris is dark brown to black and pupil is black, oval to elliptical in vertical axis, and less conspicuous. The stem of the tongue is salmon colored, and the fork tips dirty white. Upper head is usually uniform dark brown to black, and some of shields may possess irregular margins of red brown. There is an oblique band of red brown from the parietal to the base of mouth, and an inverted ''V'' of red brown at back of head. The lower two-thirds or all of upper labials are dirty white, gray or light brown. Upper body and tail are red brown; there are many black cross bands along the vertebral line. There is a longitudinal line of spots, variable in shape, size and distribution, below and alternating with dorsal cross bands. Ventral head is dirty cream to dirty white. Ventral body is white to light gray, with areas of dark pigment on outer fields of the ventrals; the pigment is more intense towards the posterior. Underside of tail is mottled with dark pigment. Anal scale is entire, and subcaudals are paired.
Biology & Ecology
This is one of the most common nocturnal snakes in Taiwan and can be found in agricultural areas, forests, and near bodies of water. It preys extensively on fishes, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, birds, mice, and even snake eggs, beetles and roadkill (in particular toads). Females produce about 8 eggs per clutch in spring and summer. Hatchlings measure about 23 cm in total length.
D.rufozonatum possesses a fairly nervous disposition and will readily bite when disturbed. In addition, the snake makes liberal use of its well developed anal glands to emit a nauseous secretion to deter aggressors.
Lycodon: lycos is Greek for "wolf", odon means "tooth"; a reference to the animal's front teeth, which are much larger than the ones in the rear, and with which the snake catches fast lizards.
rufozonatum: from Latin rufus (red) and zonatus (banded);
The Chinese name 紅斑蛇 (hong2ban1she2) literally means "red-banded snake".
Further Info