Pareas margaritophorus (Jan, 1866)

White-spotted Slug Snake (non-venomous)

White-spotted Slug Snake

Description: A small snake, up to 45 cm in total length. Light or dark grey in colour above, with rows of black spots, bordered in white, forming many irregular crossbars along entire body length. Scales smooth. Head rounded and distinct from neck. Snout blunt. Lips whitish, mottled with black. Mental groove absent. Ventrals enamel-white, with irregularly arranged black speckles. Tail short.

Habits and habitat: Found mostly in tall shrubland or broad-leaf woodland, but also on edges of suburban gardens and cultivated fields. Occasionally present in hill and mountain grassland, often hiding under objects. Frequently trapped inside catchwaters. A very docile snake; never attempts to bite. When captured, rolls itself into a tight ball-like mass, with the head tucked inside among the coils. Remains still even when turned over. Is nocturnal and secretive. Hides a great deal in captivity. A very slow-moving snake. Is preyed upon by the Coral Snake Calliophis macclellandi and possibly other ophiophagous snakes.

Diet: Feeds on several species of snails and slugs. Its teeth are enlarged and specialized for extracting snails from their shells. In captivity feed readily on small land snails.

Reproduction: Oviparous. Hatchlings about 7-10 cm in total length.

Distribution: A fairly common species throughout the territory of Hong Kong including all major islands. Occurs in extreme southern China and most of Southeast Asia.

Diagnostic features: Ash-grey body colour; transverse rows of black spots, edged in white; no mental groove.