Discovering Mysteries S3E8: Rainforest Snake Trails

By Nicki Johnson / HICN / Updated: 17:29,20-September-2022

In the dappled shade near a rainforest cave, a bolt of rainbow-colored light suddenly appears. This is the flashy Hainan Sunbeam Snake, whose scales shine brightly as they reflect the shafts of sunlight that illuminate the forest floor, making it look like it is wearing a “coat of many colors”, or is perhaps on its way to some mysterious rainforest rave.

The latest episode of Discovering Mysteries, a micro-documentary exploring the fascinating lives of the many species of plants and animals of Hainan, takes you deep into the rainforest to follow the secret trails of the island’s snakes.

Hainan Sunbeam Snake

The Hainan Sunbeam Snake has a gentle appearance. This reptile doesn’t like to move about during the daytime, instead preferring to hide out in caves most of the time. After all, its flashy, iridescent scales don’t allow it to blend in with its surroundings. In the sunlight, the hexagonal scales on its back shine in all the dreamy colors of the rainbow.

The reflective hexagonal scales on the back of the Hainan Sunbeam Snake

Due to the tropical ocean monsoon climate, it’s hot and rainy here year-round. Average temperatures of 26 Celsius and above mean that most cold-blooded animals in Hainan’s rainforest don’t hibernate.

For the Common Mock Viper, there’s nothing better than lying in the sun with a full belly. This snake has a well-defined neck and measures less than 40 cm. long, with a violet-brown back. It’s an excellent swimmer. Despite having no arms or legs, the snake moves forward easily by moving its body back and forth in the water.

Common Mock Viper

A Common Mock Viper basks in the sunlight as it rests on a rock.

In the rainforest, a Chinese Keelback snake moves across a fallen log, its flicking tongue bringing in a steady flow of information about the surrounding environment. The “Y” shaped pattern on the side of the snake is easy to spot. This species is highly adaptable, and can be seen everywhere from flooded rice paddies at low elevations to seasonal pools in high-elevation rainforests.

Chinese Keelback



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