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I saw a 60 cm long, very skinny (~15 mm diameter), black with yellow diagonal criss-cross patterned snake swimming in a pond this afternoon in northern Taiwan.

It was swimming near the top of the water and I could see it very clearly, but as soon as it noticed me it dropped most of its body to the bottom of this shallow pond and just kept part of its head above water, so the photos are not very clear.

I tried to wait for it to continue but something else disturbed it and it took off.

Is it possible to identify this snake or at least narrow down the options?

First image is cropped from the large image. I have played with contrast, color and sharpness to make the pattern and color look most like what I remember before it dropped its body lower into the murky water.

60 x 1.5 cm yellow on black water snake in northern Taiwan

60 x 1.5 cm yellow on black water snake in northern Taiwan

60 x 1.5 cm yellow on black water snake in northern Taiwan 60 x 1.5 cm yellow on black water snake in northern Taiwan 60 x 1.5 cm yellow on black water snake in northern Taiwan

60 x 1.5 cm yellow on black water snake in northern Taiwan

sketch of pattern as I remember it 60 x 1.5 cm yellow on black water snake in northern Taiwan

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The useful relevant facts are:

Present in freshwater

Active in daytime

Yellow patterning

(photos from wikipedia)

I used the site www.snakesoftaiwan.com/

This gives most likely candidates of:

Rhabdophis tigrinis subspecies formosanus, the Tiger Keelback. Grows to 0.6 to 1.0 metres long. enter image description here

more photos (cannot embed due to copyright) at http://m.blog.sina.com.tw/d100vs/article.php?pbgid=30839&entryid=404413

and

Fowlea piscator the Checkered Keelback or Asiatic Water Snake. growing 1-2 metres long. enter image description here

more photos at http://m.blog.sina.com.tw/d100vs/article.php?pbgid=30839&entryid=342476

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  • $\begingroup$ These are wonderful sites, thank you very much! Yes both of these work per the information in my question and its less-than-optimial photos, and both are compatible with what I recall. I'll have to now look for a copy of A Cobra Hijacked My Camera Bag! Snakes and Stories from Taiwan by Hans Breuer as mentioned in the site. I did surprise a 2m black Taiwan cobra myself several years ago; It was pretty close and I completely froze, never thought about reaching for my camera. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 30 '20 at 13:36

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