Ptyas major

Greater Green Snake

青蛇 (qing1she2)

Status: Not Protected


Colubridae, subfamily Colubrinae
Max. length
130 cm
Occurrence in Taiwan
Throughout Taiwan, up to 1000 m altitude. Common.
Global Distribution
Central/South China (Hainan, Henan, Gansu, Anhui, Sichuan, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Zhejiang), Taiwan, N. Vietnam, Laos
Medium-sized snake; total length up to 130 cm. There are 15 rows of smooth and glossy scales; some males may have two to five rows of keeled scales near posterior vertebral line. Head is narrow, oval to slightly triangular; body is slender; tail is long. Eye is medium to large; iris is light dull yellow to light tan, dappled by diffuse black pigment and pupil is round, jet black, surrounded by ring of light brown. Tongue is dull red with stem darkened by diffuse black pigment and fork tips dark gray to black. Upper head, body and tail is uniform green to dark green without designs while the supralabials and the first to third scale rows may be lighter in color. Ventral surface is light to yellow green, may be more yellow in anterior part of body. Anal scale is divided and the subcaudal scales are paired.
Biology & Ecology
This mild-tempered diurnal snake inhabits humid forests and agricultural areas. It preys on earthworms and insect larvae and leads a semi-arboreal lifestyle, sleeping in trees and shrubs at night. Females produce 4-13 eggs of approximately 3 x 1.5 cm per clutch in spring and early summer. Hatchlings measure about 26 cm in total length.
Ptyas is an Ancient Greek for a kind of serpent said to spit venom into the eyes of men.
major means "big, great";
The Chinese name 青蛇 (qing1she2) means "Green Snake".
The harmless, invertebrate-eating Greater Green Snake is frequently mistaken for the Chinese Tree Viper (T. s. stejnegeri) and subsequently killed. However, while both snakes are green, the differences are quite obvious at a closer glance: the Chinese Tree Viper (or Bamboo Viper, as it is commonly referred to) has a triangular head, red eyes, a white stripe along both sides of the body, and a reddish-brown tail. The Greater Green Snake has an oval head, black eyes, no stripes, and a green tail. Its scales are also much shinier than the matte, dull coloring of the Bamboo Viper.
Further Info