Are There Snakes in Japan | 8 Most Common Types Of Snakes In Japan

Japan is home to a total of 47 different species of snakes. Here we discover some of teh most common types of snakes found in Japan. Check it out!

Japan is a great destination for travelers and tourists alike, but many are unaware of the reptiles the country is home to. There are in fact 47 different snake species in Japan. 

 For many, this may come as a surprise, making one wonder; “What kind of snakes are in Japan? Are they dangerous?”. 

To answer these questions and provide an insight into the world of snakes in Japan, this article looks at the most common types of snakes native to the Japan of the Japanese archipelago. 

While some may be very rarely seen, you should familiarize yourself with some of the more common varieties that you could come across during your visit. 

The most common snakes in Japan are the Japanese Rat Snake, Japanese Striped Snake, Jimguri Snake, Yamakagashi Snake, and Japanese Keelback. 

All of these types of snakes can be found throughout the different habitats of Japan. 

By educating yourself on these different species, you can be sure to make the most of your time in the country and also stay safe.

NameVenomous/NonvenomousSize
Japanese Rat SnakeNon-venomous1 to 2 meters
Japanese Striped SnakeNon-venomous1 to 1.5 m
Jimguri SnakesNon-venomous0.8 m
Yamakagashi SnakesVenomous 1 – 1.5 m
Japanese KeelbackNon-venomous0.44 m
Japanese Moccasin Snake Venomous0.45 m – 0.81 m
Oriental Odd-Tooth SnakeNon-venomous0.30 – 0.70 m
Sea Snakes In JapanHighly venomous1.1 m – 1.8 m 

Most Common Types Of Snakes In Japan

Japanese Rat Snake

The most common type of snake found in Japan is the Japanese Rat Snake (Elaphe climacophora), otherwise known as the Aodaisho rat snake. 

These large snakes can grow up to three and a half meters in length, making them an impressive sight. 

Japanese Rat Snake snakes in japan

Japanese Rat snakes are found throughout the country, and they are considered a non-venomous species, meaning they pose no threats to humans.

The rat snake plays an important role in the Japanese ecosystem, preying mainly on rats and other small rodents. They also feed on frogs and lizards and have been known to go after birds as well. 

Their adaptability makes them a popular species in the country, and their presence helps to balance the wildlife in the habitable areas of Japan.

Despite being a nonvenomous species, the rat snake is still an eye-catching creature. It displays a vibrant pattern of black, white, and yellow patches along its body, and its coils can be seen slithering slowly across the ground. 

The rat snake is not forcibly a danger to people, but some individuals may be unnerved by its intimidating size.

It’s important for people to remember that the rat snake is a nonvenomous species and does not pose a physical threat. 

After all, the presence of snakes in Japan ensures that its habitat remains healthy for the diversity of species that inhabit it.

Overall, the rat snake is an important species in Japan and should be respected. Its presence acts as an important natural balance in the country and its ecology should not be disturbed. It is an adaptable species, and its size and appearance make it one of Japan’s most impressive inhabitants. So if you ever find yourself in Japan, don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of the Aodaisho rat snake!

Japanese Striped Snake

Japan is home to a variety of snake species, including the particularly interesting Japanese striped snake. 

These visually striking creatures can be found all over Japan and their colorful patterning means these snakes easily stand out.

Typically, Japanese striped snakes are yellow or light brown in color and can be identified by the four stripes that run from the head or neck to the tail

These thick stripes can come in a variety of different colors and patterns, ranging from white, yellow, brown, or black and some individuals may even have slight orange, red or pink markings. 

Japanese Striped Snake

On average, these creatures grow to be between 0.8 and 1.5 m, making their overall appearance quite slender.

The Japanese striped snake belongs to the ‘harmless’ or ‘nonvenomous’ species of snakes and generally creates an indiscriminate feeding diet; snacking on anything from rodents, small birds, lizards, frogs, and even other snakes

However, due to its slender size, it largely struggles to consume animals larger than its own body size, which is why individuals must often hunt for smaller prey. 

These snakes are also mainly active during the night, as with many other snake species, as it helps to keep them safe from potential predators. 

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Their nocturnal habits also help them stay cool during the hot summer months. 

Furthermore, during the spring and fall, these snakes may come out to bask in the mornings and evenings, further demonstrating how the environment plays an integral role in their behavior.

What’s more, Japanese striped snakes have an interesting nesting behavior that involves an impressive display of many individuals gathering and openly sunning themselves in a heap. 

Though their defensive behavior of highly musky odor has often been mistaken for a venomous species, these snakes are harmless and merely use this tactic as a means to ward off potential predators. 

Overall, the Japanese striped snake is an interesting species to observe. 

Despite their venomous appearance and behavior, these creatures are harmless and are best known for their eye-catching patterning on their body. 

If you ever find yourself in Japan, be sure to keep your eyes peeled as you walk the streets and you might be lucky enough to see one basking in the sunshine!

Jimguri Snakes

When you hear the word “snake”, our minds often go to images of dangerous reptiles. But did you know that Japan has a particular species of snake that is completely harmless? 

This curious type of snake is called a Jimguri, and it translates to “the burrower” in Japanese.

Also known as the burrowing rat snake, the common species of Jimguri that is native to Japan is reddish-brown with small black splotches across its body

Jimguri

It may not look like an exciting creature, but if you take a closer look you’ll find that this type of snake is quite interesting and much loved by many around the country.

Unlike other species of snakes, Jimguri are nonvenomous and harmless. 

They love to slither through meadows, woods, waterways, and other areas ranging from mountains to flatlands

Unlike the image of a predator that is often associated with snakes, they often eat rats. 

What’s even more unique is the unique way they hunt. Instead of stalking their prey, they like to prey on the baby rats as they burrow into the ground.

The primary habitat of Jimguri is in Japan’s rich forest

As creatures of the night, these little snakes hunt in the dark hours of the night. That explains why you will rarely spot Jimguri during the day. As stealthy as they are, they often go unnoticed by the human eye.

Despite its wide popularity, the population of Jimguri continues to decline due to habitat loss. Fortunately, conservation efforts continue to try and keep their population from further declining.

Jimguri snakes may not be the most thrilling of creatures, but they have a special place in the hearts of many in Japan. 

They may not be able to scare us with their bite, but they sure do make us take notice of their unique characteristics and the rich history they hold in their home country.

Yamakagashi Snakes

The Yamakagashi Snakes, also known as tiger keelback, are the most common types of snakes found in Japan. 

As the name suggests, they are known to have striking markings that resemble a tiger. 

Though these intriguing Yamakagashi snakes can grow to be anywhere between 0.7 to 1.5 meters in length, stay away from the Yamakagashi snakes as they are venomous. 

That being said, it’s essential to be aware of these creatures if you are visiting any of the areas in Japan they inhabit. 

While their coloration will vary depending on the region they’re spotted in, they’re usually a dark brown or olive hue with a few orange spots. On the other hand, their bellies are usually quite distinct, as they are usually white or cream in hue. 

It’s worth noting that their diet mainly consists of frogs

The curious Yamakagashi mainly tuck into their milder counterparts, some of which have developed colorful markings. 

But evolution has also seen some of the local frog populations taking a liking to a diet of poisonous frogs, which the snakes then store the toxins in special glands near the back of their mouth. 

This comes in handy if they’re ever under attack by a predator; they’re not the most docile creatures, after all. 

Though they might not be considered cuddly creatures, observers often admire their colors and fierce eyes. Since they’re found across much of Japan, there’s a good chance you’ll catch one if you’re looking. 

To be honest, they’re rather resourceful creatures, as they’ll also take advantage of small rocks that are covered in moss and debris to get away from certain predators. 

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So if ever you find yourself in Japan, take a minute to look out for the lively Yamakagashi Snakes. You’ll be rewarded with an expression of colors and defiance that’s truly captivating.

Japanese Keelback

Japanese keelbacks are small snakes that are often found in the waterways and mountain forests of Japan. 

They measure up to 65 cm in length with a light brown or brown hue body color

The Japanese keelback is a nonvenomous snake, so there is no need to fear when you spot one. 

The Japanese keelback’s diet consists of small prey such as frogs and their larvae, earthworms, and fish.

If you happen to catch a glimpse of a Japanese Keelback, you will discover that it loves to take naps on warm, sunny rocks during the day. 

Occasionally they come out during the night, but they prefer to remain inactive during the day. 

During the cold winter months, they can also be found burrowed in the soft, damp ground, harvesting the warmth beneath the surface.

When it comes to reproduction, the Japanese Keelback is an egg-laying reptile. They lay their eggs in the moist mud and sand of a riverbank during the summer. 

Generally, female Japanese keelbacks lay eggs numbering between 15 to 20. These eggs then hatch within two months. 

Young Japanese keelbacks measure just 15 cm in size and are quite dark in color. 

As they age, the Japanese keelbacks become lighter in colour, reaching up to 40 centimeters in length. 

In Japanese culture, the Japanese Keelback is sometimes called “Tokage,” meaning lizard, due to its physical appearance. 

In some regions of Japan, this snake is highly respected by the locals, and is even worshipped in some parts.

Overall, despite its small size, the Japanese Keelback is a fascinating species that has been living in Japan for centuries. 

It’s very interesting to study their behavior and the way they interact with their environment. 

So the next time you come across a snake slithering along the shore of a river or lake, do not be alarmed, because, quite likely, it is just a Japanese Keelback peacefully going as to come.

Japanese Moccasin Snake (Mamushi)

Most people have heard of the saying, “beware of the snake” – and this rings true for Japan. 

Although there are not many snakes in Japan, the ones that are present are one of the most dangerous. 

One type of snake that is common in Japan, and should be watched for by anyone visiting or living in the country, is the Japanese Moccasin. 

Also known as the Mamushi, the Japanese Moccasin is a type of pit viper that can be found in the Japanese wilderness, particularly in the areas of Kyushu, Yamaguchi, and Okinawa as well as on small islands off the coast of Japan.

The Japanese Moccasin is a pale gray, reddish-brown, or yellow-brown in color with irregular splotches and evenly spaced banding down their backs

It has a striking yellow stripe on its back that separates the moccasin from the other pit vipers found in the country.

It feeds mainly on birds, and small reptiles, such as lizards and frogs, as well as amphibians.

The bite from the Japanese Moccasin can be very dangerous and can cause serious damage if not treated properly. 

Symptoms of a moccasin bite can include intense and long-lasting pain, as well as swelling, redness, and blistering of the affected area. 

If left untreated, the bite can prove to be fatal over time. The recovery time is usually a week of intensive hospital care and even with proper treatment, around ten people a year still die from the bite of the Japanese Moccasin.

Due to its danger, the Japanese Moccasin is one of the most feared snakes in the country, and as such, it should not be approached. 

If individuals should spot this type of snake, it is advised that they quickly evacuate the area and notify any local authority of its presence. 

The Japanese Moccasin should always be treated with great respect and kept well away from at all times. 

Due to its ability to strike quickly, it is best to use caution when around the Japanese Moccasin. 

It is important to be aware of the surroundings and look out for snakes that might be hiding in the grass or under rocks. 

There are also certain steps that one can take to mitigate the risk of a bite which include wearing protective gear such as boots, long trousers, and long-sleeved shirts, as well as being wary of snakes that might be hiding in the foliage.

In conclusion, the Japanese Moccasin, also known as the Mamushi, is one of the most common and dangerous snakes found in Japan. 

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Although the bite can be very serious, with proper hospital care and recovery time, fatalities are rare, but it is still important to take precautions when out in the wilderness in Japan.

Oriental Odd-Tooth Snake

The Oriental odd-tooth snake is one of the most commonly found species of snake found in Japan. 

It is an endemic venomous species that can be found across most of Japan and is known for its distinctive black stripes and lighter-colored underside

Typically, these snakes are around 30 to 70 centimeters in length, although some can be longer. 

This snake is nocturnal, which means it usually hunts for prey from the forest floor during the night. It has an elongated head, with a mild V-shaped outline on top. 

Its colorful scales combined with its pointed teeth, which are the source of its name ‘Oriental odd-tooth snake’, create an impressive and mysterious sight.

Unlike other venomous snakes, the bite of the Oriental odd-tooth snake is not life-threatening; however, if bitten, it is still advised to seek medical attention immediately to ensure no further complications arise. 

Alongside its venomous bite, as with most other snakes, it has a musky smell that can be detected by predators. 

Fortunately, it is not an aggressive creature and will quickly try to escape any sort of altercation.

Sadly, this snake is an endangered species due to hunting, the destruction of its natural habitat and the introduction of non-native species. 

All of this has led to a sharp decline in its population. To help protect this species, it is best not to interact with them and to leave them in their natural habitats.

In summary, the Oriental odd-tooth snake is a nocturnal and venomous species of snake found mainly across Japan.

It is a unique creature with both its colorful scales and pointed teeth, which is the source of its exotic name. 

This species is unfortunately endangered due to hunting, the destruction of its natural habitat, and the introduction of non-native species. 

It is best not to interact with them and to respect their habitats to ensure their preservation.

Sea Snakes In Japan

Surrounded by coral reefs and warm south Pacific waters, it’s no surprise that Japan is home to some of the most venomous snakes on the planet – sea snakes. 

These docile creatures often have small mouths, but are incredibly dangerous because of the fangs right at the back of the jaw. 

As a result, many people still have questions concerning the presence of snakes in Japan, and which species are most common in the region.

Despite the fear that snakes evoke, they still have their own unique and fascinating beauty. 

When it comes to Japan, there are several species of snakes in the seas surrounding the islands. 

One of the most impressive of these is the Yellow Enhydrina which, with its striking coloration, is truly a sight to behold.

Not far behind the Yellow Enhydrina is the Coastal Sea Snake, which can grow up to 80cm long and has a solid yellow head. 

Its light brown body gives it a shifting, almost ethereal appearance when it moves through the water.

 This species has become increasingly rare in recent years due to its relative lack of defense against predation from humans and fish, as well as its staple diet of shellfish, small fish, and squid.

Another common sea snake in Japan is the Banded Sea Krait, whose shiny black markings make it stand out both in and out of water. 

They can be found in depths from two to fifteen meters, and they feed mainly on fish as well as small invertebrates.

The geographical range of this species is quite restricted, and it only lives in waters close to large estuaries.

Japan also has the Japanese Sea Snake, which is considered to be the only true sea snake native to the country.

 This species can grow to 120 cm and has a brown-yellowish body marked with prominent spots and dashes.

 Like the Banded Sea Krait, the Japanese Sea Snake is largely restricted to the waters just offshore, though in this case, it tends to prefer subtidal habitats and brackish waters.

The last species of sea snake, and one of the more unusual, is the Dwarf Sea Snake. Only found in the southern regions of Japan, this species grows to a maximum length of just 35 cm and is easily identified by its bright orange and yellow markings.

They feed on small crustaceans, and dart through the water in a flurry of activity.

So, put simply, the answer to the question, are there snakes in Japan? is a resounding ‘Yes’. Japan is home to a wide range of sea snakes, from the small and vibrant Dwarf Seasnake to the more dangerous Coastal Sea Snake. 

While these animals do not pose a threat as they are docile and relatively safe, they should still be admired and respected from a distance and never touched.

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