Sibynophis chinensis chinensis

Asiatic Many-Toothed Snake

黑 頭蛇 (hei1tou2she2)

Status: Not Protected


Colubridae, subfamily Sibynophinae
Max. length
72 cm
Occurrence in Taiwan
Throughout Taiwan, at altitudes of 500-1500 m. Not very common.
Global Distribution
N. Vietnam, Central/South China (Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Anhui, Gansu, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi), Taiwan.
Small snake; total length up to 72 cm. There are 17 rows of body scales, which are smooth and iridescent. Head is slightly triangular; body is slender; tail is long. Eye is medium to small; iris is dark, black dappled on dirty yellow, pupil is jet black, round, circled with distinct orange red band. Tongue is dark, stem mottled. Upper head is grey to dark brown, with two small black markings. There is a black collar on the nape bordered posteriorly by a stripe of cream to tan. Rostral and supralabials are prominently marked with white stripes or spots, partly bordered by black. Upper body is gray brown to brown with 3 indistinct longitudinal stripes of diffuse black or white pigment; the mid-dorsal stripe is widest but becomes less distinct posteriorly. Ventral head is dirty white mottled with coarse diffuse black or brown pigment. Ventral body is whitish to yellow green, with scattered flecks of black anteriorly. The brown of upper body extends onto outer quarter or fifth of ventral scales. Areas of black pigment at each side of the ventral form a longitudinal line which extends onto tail. Anal scale is divided and subcaudals are paired.
Biology & Ecology
This docile, but very fast-moving diurnal snake inhabits montane forest floors or plantations. It preys on frogs, lizards, and other snakes. Females produce 2-6 eggs of 3-3.7 x 1.3-1.5 cm per clutch in summer.
Like other skink-eating snakes, those of the genus Sibynophis possess hinged teeth which can lock prey in a vertical position if it tries to escape (Savitzky, 1981)
Sibynophis: sibyna was an Ancient Greek term for certain hunting spears and refers here to the snake's teeth; ophis = snake;
chinensis is Latin for "from China".
The Chinese name 黑頭蛇 (hei1tou2she2) means "Black-headed Snake"
Further Info