Many contextual factors affect the anti-predator behaviour of animals. In ectotherms, in which most physiological activities depend on body temperature, ambient temperature is one of the most important of these factors. We examined the effects of temperature on the anti-predator behaviour of an ectotherm, the Japanese grass snake (Rhabdophis tigrinus). This species has a large repertoire of anti-predator behavioural responses. Among these responses are several anti-predator displays that appear to be unique to this species and perhaps others in a small group of closely related species possessing nuchal glands containing toxic secretions that may be derived from their toxic toad diet. Snakes were tested at room temperatures of 14, 22 and 30°C with order of temperatures balanced. A long wand modified to simulate initial contact by a predator was used as the stimulus. Snakes exhibited rather passive responses (neck flatten, body flatten, neck arch and immobile) more frequently at low temperatures, and fled more frequently at high temperatures. The dorsal facing posture, a characteristic posture directed against the stimulus, was observed more frequently at low temperatures. Threatening, assertive responses such as strike were rarely observed. These results showed that R. tigrinus shifts its anti-predator behaviour from multiple passive responses to active flight responses with increasing temperature. This snake species thus appears to rely more on its nuchal glands as a predator deterrent at low ambient temperatures. Consistent individual variation was also observed, and its adaptive and causal bases are discussed.