Hebius miyajimae

Maki's Keelback

金 絲蛇 (jin1si1she2)

Status: Protected (Cat.I)


Colubridae, subfamily Natricinae
Max. length
60 cm
Occurrence in Taiwan
Mainly in northern Taiwan, at altitudes of 500-1000 m. Endangered.
Global Distribution
Endemic to Taiwan.
Small snake; total length up to 60 cm. There are 17-19 rows of scales, all are strongly keeled. Head is slightly triangular; body is slender; tail is very long. Eye is medium to large; iris is brown, dappled with coarse black pigment and pupil is round, jet black with red margin. Tongue is black, with whitish diverging point. Upper head is uniformly brown with a white spot above the base of jaw. The labials are generally white and may show dark sutures; there is a black stripe extending posteriorly from eye to posterior part of upper labials and connecting with the black stripe on upper body. Upper body and tail are distinctly marked with seven longitudinal stripes. From vertebral ridge to each side of body, they are: one broad stripe of dark brown with dark margins bilaterally, one dorsolateral stripe of yellow to tan (white on neck), one narrow stripe of dark brown to black, and one broad stripe of red (white on neck). Ventral head is white. Ventral body and tail are light yellow; the red flanks of upper body extend onto outer quarter or fifth of ventral scales and the small black spots near latero-ventral junction form a longitudinal stripe. Anal scale is divided and subcaudals are paired.
Biology & Ecology
This diurnal or nocturnal snake inhabits humid mountain areas. It preys on frogs, toads or tadpoles, and has even been observed climbing into hollow trees to eat the tadpoles Eiffinger's treefrog (Chirixalus eiffingeri) lays there. Females produce about 3 long eggs of approximately 4 x1 cm per clutch. H. miyajimae is endangered by habitat destruction and construction of roads, on which many of these snakes are run over by passing vehicles.
Hebius: Derived from the Japanese word "Hebi", which means "snake".
miyajimae: in honor of the Japanese national Miyajima, who collected the holotype in May of 1928. The Chinese name 金絲蛇 (jin1si1she2) means "Gold () Striped () Snake ()".
Hebius miyajimae resembles Hatori's Coral Snake (Sinomicrurus hatori) and the Taiwan Coral Snake (Sinomicrurus sauteri). However, both coral snakes sport a broad white band across the back of the neck which is lacking in H. miyajimae; and the latter has a white spot behind each eye that neither of the coral snakes has.