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Avoiding Danger on the Trail
Snakes and Mountain Bikers in Taiwan

The most dangerous animals are usually the ones caught by surprise. Some of the best qualities of mountain biking can also make it somewhat dangerous at times. Remote, quiet trails in the mountains, by streams or in the grassland ... all great places to ride, but all are also potential habitat for poisonous snakes.

Riders in Taiwan love to speed along trails, often during the first and last moments of light in the day. In Taiwan, dawn and dusk are prime times for snake encounters. Many snakes tend to be nocturnal, or at least more docile during daylight hours. When riding at dawn or dusk, riders must be particularly careful to avoid snakes. Fast moving bikes on relatively smooth trails often don't make enough noise, or cause enough vibrations for snakes to "hear" you coming. So, be alert on the trail.

Virtually all trails in Taiwan have (lengthy) sections when you'll need to dismount and carry your bike. Snakes will often make their homes, or rest in the rocks and long grass bordering trails, so you'll want to be careful with your footsteps. Similarly, during hotter weather, snakes, like you, will want to seek shelter in the shade. Make sure to look before you sit or step in shaded areas.

If you are bringing a tent and planning an overnight trip, be careful to set up your tent away from tall grass. We realise that space is often limited, but if you have a choice of location, try to set up your tent in a more open spot. You will be less likely to have legless visitors during the night this way. If you are riding at night, assuming you don't want to see snakes, you'll want to make lots of noise so the numerous snakes have a few moments to clear the trails.

In our experience, most snake encounters have been very brief. The snakes have generally fled the scene at high speed. However, some of the more aggressive snakes like the Russell's Pit Viper are less likely to leave immediately. If you are mentally prepared, and careful on the trail, you won't likely have any trouble.

Snakes and Mountain Bikers | Common Poisonous Snakes in Taiwan |
First Aid for Snake Bites | Additional Links