Common names: tiger keelback.[1], yamakagashi (Japan)

Rhabdophis tigrinus is a venomous colubrid found in East and Southeast Asia. No subspecies are currently recognized.[2]


The dorsal color pattern is olive-drab green with black and bright orange crossbars or spots from the neck down the first third of the body. The belly is whitish. The average length is usually 60-100 cm (24-39 inches).[3]

Geographic rangeEdit

Found in eastern Russia (Primorskiy and Khabarovsk), North and South Korea, China (widespread, except in the western third and the extreme south; Chekiang, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hupeh, Guizhou, Sichuan, Gansu, Shensi and Suiyuan), on the island of Taiwan, in Vietnam and in Japan (Yakushima, Taegashima, Kyūshū, Shikoku, Honshu and in the Ryukyu Islands). The type locality given is "Japan.”[1]

Feeding & DefenseEdit

The diet consists mainly of small vertebrates, especially frogs and toads. These snakes forage using both chemical (smell/tongue) and visual cues to find their prey[4].

When these snakes are challenged at cooler temperatures they tend to demonstrate passive anti-predator responses such as flattening their neck and body and lying still while at higher temperatures they more frequently flee instead. Interestingly this species has two nuchal glands in their neck that sequester steroid irritants obtained from eating toads as a predation defense. This snake thus appears to rely more heavily on the deterrence provided by these glands at low ambient temperatures. [5][6]. Although venomous, few deaths have been recorded due to its tendency display one of these other behaviors as opposed to striking. This hesitancy to strike at a predator in turn may be because its fangs are located in the back of the mouth making a successful strike on a large object difficult.[7]


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named NRDB
  2. Template:ITIS
  3. Rhabdophis tigrinus lateralis at Animal Pictures Archive. Accessed 21 September 2008.
  4. Tanaka K. 2002. Foraging behavior of Rhabdophis tigrinus (Serpentes: Colubridae) in a gutter with a dense aggregation of tadpoles. Curr. Herpetol. vol. 21(1): 1-8.
  5. Mori A, Burghardt GM. 2001. Temperature effects on anti-predator behaviour in Rhabdophis tigrinus, a snake with toxic nuchal glands. Ethology 107(9): 795-811.
  6. From the Cover: Dietary sequestration of defensive steroids in nuchal glands of the Asian snake Rhabdophis tigrinus Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 13 February 2007: 2265-2270.
  7. Sawai Y, Honma M, Kawamura Y, Saki A, Hatsuse M. 2002. Rhabdophis tigrinus in Japan: Pathogenesis of envenomation and production of antivenom. Journal of Toxicology. Toxin Reviews vol. 21(1-2): 181-201.

Further readingEdit

  • Tanaka K. 2002. Foraging behavior of Rhabdophis tigrinus (Serpentes: Colubridae) in a gutter with a dense aggregation of tadpoles. Curr. Herpetol. vol. 21(1): 1-8.

External linksEdit

Template:Commonsde:Tigernatter fr:Rhabdophis tigrinus ko:유혈목이 ja:ヤマカガシ pl:Zaskroniec tygrysi ru:Тигровый уж zh:虎斑颈槽蛇

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