Wed 11 Oct 2006
The Tiger Keelback or Japanese Water Snake (yamakagashi) is such a beautiful snake, with red and black spots along its body, but it is also venomous. Apparently there are not too many cases of people being killed because the snake is relatively quiet and tries to escape rather than attack. This snake does not have the usual front “fangs” we associate with venomous snakes, but instead has venomous molars (i.e. at the back of the mouth). It also has venom glands located on its neck from which, as an anti-predator mechanism, it sprays poison into its attacker’s eyes. I didn’t know this piece of information until after I researched about the snake, but I didn’t notice anything spray out when I picked it up. I will be more careful next time!!
It took quite a while to catch this snake. I saw one sliding through the grass at the side of a small ditch, but it escaped before I got near to it. Then I spotted another and tried to grab it, missing it by inches. I’m not quite sure how many snakes there were at this location, but there seemed to be quite a few because I made four separate attempts in different places before I finally caught one. It was either several snakes or the same one that popped up in different places along a 50m stretch of the ditch!
This species of snake eats frogs and toads.
Reptilia: Colubridae: Rhabdophis tigrinus
Tiger Keelback or Japanese Water Snake = yamakagashi