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Flying Snakes of Southeast Asia

Snakes that fly! No, we are not discussing Greek mythology here. Flying snakes do exist in the 'real' world, but very few people are aware of their existence.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Have you ever heard of snakes that fly? It may be difficult to imagine snakes flying from one tree to another, but such species do exist in the remote forests of Southeast Asia. While they don't exactly fly, they do take the aerial route from one tree to another. Some of these snakes are able to cover a distance of 100 meters with immense ease.

The Intriguing Snakes of Southeast Asia

The Asian flying snakes belong to the genus Chrysopelea. They are members of the family Colubridae family. They are mildly venomous in nature, and thus, don't pose any threat to humans. These snakes are found in Southeast Asia, Melanesia, and the Western Ghats of India. Scientists have found that there are 5 species of this unique reptile.

Golden Tree Snake

The golden tree snake (Chrysopelea ornata), also called the ornate flying snake, is the largest of these unique reptiles. It can reach about 4 feet in length. It is usually known to be pure yellow in color, but color variations, like yellow to lime green, are also observed.
The snakes can also have orange and red colored markings, which add to its beauty. As it is large in size, it has been found to be a weak flyer as compared to the rest.

Paradise Tree Snake

The paradise tree snake (Chrysopelea paradisi) is about 3 feet in length. It has beautiful markings that make it very popular in pet trade. It has a black body covered with green scales. Additionally, you will find beautiful markings along the dorsal part of this snake. These markings are shaped like flower petals, and can be red, orange, or yellow in color. This is the best flyer among all the species.

Twin-barred Tree Snake

The twin-barred tree snakeChrysopelea pelias is the smallest of all flying snakes. It is about 2 feet in length, and is black or gray in color. Thick red and thin yellow bands cover its entire body. The species is very rare in nature, and therefore, it is very difficult to come across one in the wild.
The other two species, the Moluccan flying snake (Chrysopelea rhodopleuron) and Sri Lankan flying snake (Chrysopelea taprobanica) have not yet been studied in detail. Not much is known about them.

Flying Snakes ~ Fact or Misnomer

The flying snakes have the ability to go airborne, but they don't really fly. It's a misnomer as they glide through the air. With the help of contortions of their bodies and the speed at which they throw themselves in air, they can glide over a considerable distance. They slither to an end of a branch and dangle their bodies in J shape.
Then, they propel themselves from the branch. The minute they do it, the body forms an S and flattens itself. This helps them to form a concave shape and defy gravity. If they want to take a turn, they begin to undulate the body back and forth. For onlookers, it appears as if the species is flying.
These beautiful reptiles glide through the lowland tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia, where they feed on native lizards, frogs, birds, and bats for food. They are diurnal in nature, i.e., active during the day, and are considered virtually harmless. These snakes are being studied for their proficiency in taking advantage of rules of aerodynamics by the experts.