Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Flying Snake | Chrysopelea ornata

Labels: Golden Tree Snake, Ornate Flying Snake, Golden Flying Snake, Gliding Snake

Binomial name: Chrysopelea ornata
Common name: Flying Snake

Scientific classification
















C. ornata


Distinguishing Features: Small or medium-sized, slender; smooth scales; very bright pattern of black, yellow and red.

Average Length: 1 m; At Birth: 20 cm; Maximum: 1.75 m.

Description: Flying Snakes are thin, fast and colourful and personify vibrant energy. They have smooth and somewhat glossy scales. Their back is black in colour with yellow or white cross bands and speckles and red rosettes. Their undersides are greenish and have lateral folds on the belly scales used for climbing purpose. Their pattern and colouration of head and trunk vary geographically.

Distribution: They are common in forested hills of the Southwest, forests of Northeast India, and north of Bihar and Orissa, up to 2,000 m above sea level. The other species namely the Paradise Flying Snake (C. paradisi) is found on Narcondam in the Andamans.

Habitat: They usually have a preference for large trees and thick forests. However, apart from India they are seen around houses and gardens.

Habits: This snake remains active by day. Flying Snakes escape predation by jumping, even from very high branches, just like Bronze-backs. Analysis done on the flight of this snake shows that, they extend their ribs and pull in the underside. This flattening allows the ‘Flying Snake’ to be a bit of a glider, keeping it from falling straight down. This leaping activity from branch to branch between trees is astonishing to watch.

Young: Females lay 6 to 12 eggs between February and March.

Food: Their habits are similar to the Bronze-backs and also feed on frogs, lizards (including geckos), small birds and sometimes their eggs. They generally swallow the prey alive, although it has rear ‘fangs’ and a slightly noxious saliva possibly effective in immobilizing their prey.

Status: Flying Snakes seem to be rare in the Western Ghats (Tamil Nadu). Unfortunately, this species is very popular with snake fanciers in Europe and America, which has eventually resulted in it being exported in large numbers in the past. Apparently the more colourful a snake is, the deadlier it is, hence only the bravest can handle a colourful one.

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