Saturday, November 18th, 2023
Chrysopelea (Flying Snakes) Profile
Commonly known as the flying snake or gliding snake, Chrysopelea are a genus of the family Colubridae, the largest snake family comprising of 51% of all known living snakes. There are 5 known species of flying snake (Golden Tree Snake or Chrysopelea ornate, Paradise Flying Snake or Chrysopelea paradise, Banded Flying Snake or Chrysopelea pelias, Moluccan Flying Snake or Chrysopelea rhodopleuron and Sri Lankan Flying Snake or Chrysopelea taprobanica), which inhabit jungles, woodlands and forests of South and Southeast Asia. They can ‘fly’ from trees gliding as far as 100 metres (330 feet). Chrysopelea are diurnal (day hunters) meat eating snakes hunting and feasting on lizards, bats, birds, frogs, and rodents.
The 5 species of flying snakes are found in Vietnam, Greater and Lesser Sunda Islands, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Maluku as well as in parts of India, China and Sri Lanka. There are no pertinent threats to flying snake populations. All flying snakes have been classified as species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Not much is known about these creatures inhabiting the wild, but it is widely believed that they very rarely leave the tree canopy they inhabit. So, you won’t likely come across one on the ground. Size range dependent on the species is 2-4 feet long. Even though these snakes are mildly venomous, they have small, fixed rear fangs that make them harmless to humans.
Interesting Flying Snakes Facts
The flying snake doesn’t ‘fly’, it glides actually.
While navigating through the air, the snake flattens its body to aid glide, and moves in a ‘serpentine motion’ to control direction and landing. The snake moving in lateral undulation generates increased air pressure under its body, causing lift – allowing it to glide with the pull of gravity.
Tree to tree glide of flying snakes helps them to hunt and avoid predators.
It is believed that flying snakes fly from the top of one tree to a lower level of another tree to hunt their prey. Apart from saving energy compared to ground travel, tree-to-tree glide keeps the flying snake away from ground predators.
Flying snakes are far better gliders in comparison to many other ‘flying’ animals.
As they don’t have limbs, the flying snake can in fact glide better than flying squirrels. Studies conducted at Virginia Tech demonstrate that flying snakes drastically alter their body shape and execute an undulating dance in the air, which produces aerodynamic forces that augment the actual gliding motion.