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10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Asia’s Iridescent Snakes

Are you a snake person? If so, and you happen to be traveling to Asia, you should keep your eye out for some of the beautiful iridescent snakes native to the area. An iridescent snake is a snake that has iridophores present on its scales. These iridophores give the illusion that a snake is shimmering.

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They're small, crystal-like, elements on their scales that create a radiant sheen, causing their natural color to shimmer and shine in the light. The rainbow boa is very popular but sunbeam snakes are perhaps the most glorious and you can find them in Asia. Read one to find out more interesting facts about iridescent snakes in Asia.

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10 They are typically non-venomous

Formosan odd-scaled snake is a non-venomous Taiwanese burrowing snake. Sunbeam snakes are also non-venomous. One might anticipate these snakes to be venomous due to their coloring. Poison dart frogs are highly toxic to humans and come in a variety of eye-popping shades to lure their prey in close before infecting them with their venom.

You might think the same would be true with any snake of iridescent variety but that is simply not the case. Iridescent snakes, while gorgeous, are typically not venomous whatsoever. They are rarely even a threat to humans and prefer to stay far out of their way.

9 They are oviparous

Iridescent snakes are oviparous, which means they do lay eggs. Sunbeam snakes, known for their radiant scales, are notoriously fast breeders. Not only are they fast to reproduce but there has been a recorded number of 17 eggs being laid at one time with a female sunbeam snake. There isn't a lot of scientific evidence known about sunbeam snakes breeding in captivity.

Unfortunately, sunbeam snakes are more often imported from their native home of Indonesia. Because of their incandescence and natural beauty, they can be lucrative and many snake collectors clamor to own. Not much is known about sunbeam snake husbandry at the current time.

8 Sunbeam snakes prefer dampness

When you think about snakes in general, often you think about heat. Typically, if you're a snake owner, a large component of taking care of your reptilian pets is ensuring they have heat lamps and plenty of places to sun themselves. Snakes love to lay out on rocks and soak up the sun.

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But that isn't the case with iridescent snakes, particularly the sunbeam snake. Sunbeams actually prefer cool and damp areas. They typically live in muddy, marsh-like habitats. Often they can be found burrowed down into rice paddies or in dark and dank areas. But don't worry about coming across one, they are typically docile snakes.

7 These snakes are typically nocturnal

Again, most people are used to snakes being active in the day time when the sun is out. It's the one good thing about snakes, they don't often come out during the night time. If you're someone who scares easily around these creatures, that thought is probably a comfort to you because at least you know the odds of coming across one in the dead of night are slim. Unless, of course, you're in Asia.

Why? Because iridescent snakes are typically nocturnal. Since they prefer cool temperatures and dampness, they don't like to come out during daylight hours. The good thing is, due to their shiny scales, you might be able to catch sight of one in the moonlight.

6 Sunbeam snake is the most iridescent in the world

Sunbeam snakes are becoming increasingly popular among exotic pet traders and avid snake collectors. Because of these creatures' natural incandescence and their stunning coloring, they are highly sought-after. But the reason you don't typically see many people with these animals as pets is that there are inaccurate rumors about them being difficult animals to keep.

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That's actually not true, they're extremely friendly. These are the rare snakes that don't let their beauty go to their heads! Despite being radiant, named for the fact their scales make them look like a rainbow slithering on the ground, they are gentle creatures. Sunbeam snakes are known to be the most iridescent snakes in the world.

5 Rainbow water snake is a fish eater

The rainbow water snake, another indigenous to Asia, specifically Bangkok, is one of the few iridescent snakes that are venomous. Still, it is only mildly venomous and not considered a threat to humans. These snakes are highly aquatic and live near freshwater. They have a fondness for fish, which is somewhat uncommon for snakes.

But they have been known to eat small amphibians and other animals like wading birds from time to time. Because these snakes typically stay in or near the water, they have adapted to their habitat. They have nostrils that close underwater and their eyes are positioned on top of their head to see above it while swimming.

4 The iridescent shieldtail is one of the most colorful snakes

This special snake is one of the most colorful in the world. It is found in the mountains of India and in Sri Lanka. Its coloring is particularly striking in the sunlight if you are able to shine a full light on it, it basically sparkles.

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There are more than 45 species of shieldtail snakes and despite the fact they come in all different shades and colors, all of them are iridescent. They are named for their keeled tails. These snakes are nocturnal and live in underground tunnels, hence why their tails are of such import. Typically they feed on earthworms or other small arthropods. They don't bite humans.

3 They are very friendly snakes

If you've noticed a common thread with all the iridescent snakes we've talked about on this list, it's that they don't bite and are generally not considered harmful to humans. In fact, iridescent snakes, particularly the sunbeam snake, are thought of as excellent pets to prospective snake owners.

Because of their beauty, people get the wrong idea that these snakes may be high-maintenance or deadly but that isn't the case. They require their fair share of research before handling, but that's no different from any other pet care. In fact, iridescent snakes are extremely docile and shy. There has never been a reported fatality involving these snakes and it is incredibly rare to even be bitten by one.

2 They are constrictor snakes

Because they are typically not venomous or have a very low amount of venom, almost all iridescent snakes are constrictor snakes. This means they don't kill their prey by attacking with fangs, biting, and injecting with poison. Instead, they tightly wrap around their prey and kill them through a method of suffocation.

Of course, some of the iridescent snakes found in regions outside of Asia are not as docile as the ones typically found in Asia. And just because a snake is more likely to constrict than bite doesn't mean it can't be dangerous. You should always proceed with caution with these animals.

1 Sunbeam snakes can grow up to three feet long

In general, sunbeam snakes are the more common iridescent snakes you'll come across if you're traveling through Asia. They don't grow all that big either. Typically, a sunbeam snake will reach full-size at about three feet in length. In regards to their thickness, they usually aren't any thicker than a quarter.

Altogether, they're not all that big or threatening of a snake. But there have been a few reported cases of a sunbeam snake growing as long as four feet. It would be rare to see one get to that size. It is best you don't over-handle these snakes though because they can become stressed out easily.

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