Overview

Brief Summary

Chrysopelea paradisi is one of five species of tropical lowland tree snakes of southern and southeast Asia that together comprise the genus Chrysopelea, the "flying snakes". Chrysopelea snakes are on the order of 0.6–1.2 m in length, with a body mass ranging from tens to a few hundred grams.

Chrysopelea snakes are best known for their remarkable gliding abilities. At least four of the five species are known to be capable of gliding (according to Socha [2011], gliding has been studied under experimental conditions in C. ornata, C. paradisi, and C. peliasC. rhodopleuron, which occurs in Sulawesi and the Moluccas, has also been observed to glide, but the gliding abilities of the Sri Lankan endemic C. taprobanica are unknown).

Chrysopelea “flying” snakes are the only limbless animals that glide through air. These snakes can actively launch by jumping, maintain a stable glide path, maneuver, and safely land without injury. As the snake becomes airborne, the body flattens sequentially from head to vent, forming a cross-sectional shape that is roughly triangular, with a flat surface and lateral ‘‘lips’’ that protrude ventrally on each side of the body; these may diminish toward the vent. A glide trajectory is initiated with the snake falling at a steep angle. As the snake rotates in the pitch axis, it forms a wide ‘‘S’’ shape and begins undulating in a complex three dimensional pattern, with the body angled upward relative to the glide path. The head moves side-to-side, sending traveling waves posteriorly toward the tail, while the body (most prominently, the posterior end) oscillates in the vertical axis. These active movements while gliding are substantially different and more dynamic than those used by any other animal glider. As the snake gains forward speed, the glide path becomes less steep, reaching minimally recorded glide angles of 138. In general, smaller snakes appear to be more proficient gliders. Morphologically, Chrysopelea appear to be typical snakes, with no special appendages, skin flaps, or other features such as are used by other flying animals. Instead, the snake undergoes aerial locomotion by using its entire body as a flattened, moving wing, constantly reconfiguring it throughout flight.

(Socha 2011 and references therein)

  • Socha, J.J. 2011. Gliding Flight in Chrysopelea: Turning a Snake into a Wing. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51(6): 969-982.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs from southern Myanmar and southern Thailand southwards through Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, western Indonesia (including the islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali) and Borneo (where it is found throughout the island), to Sulawesi and the Philippines (including the Negros, Panay, Luzon, Dinagat, Siargao, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Basilan, Inampulugan, Panay, Jolo Island, Boracay, Bohol, Siquijor, Palawan, Guimaras, Verde Island, Surigao del Sur and Polilo) (Leviton 1968, Ross and Lazell 1990, Brown et al. 1996, Cox et al. 1998, Steubing and Inger 1999, Malkmus et al. 2002, McKay 2006). It is also found on Narcondum Island in India's Andaman Islands (Das 2007).
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Type Locality

Java, Indonesia

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Faunal Affinity

Luzon and Visayan (central) Pleistocene Aggregate Island Complexes (PAIC; Brown and Diesmos, 2002) as well as the Sulu Archipelago.

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This is a widely distributed species of snake, currently recognized to occur in Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and the Philippine islands. In the Philippines this species has been documented to occur in the Sulu Archipelago, as well as on the islands of Negros, Panay, and Luzon.

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Continent: Asia
Distribution: Thailand (incl. Phuket) Indonesia (Bangka, Belitung, Java, Mentawai Archipelago, Natuna Archipelago, Nias, Riau Archipelago, Sumatra, We, Borneo, Sulawesi);  Brunei Darussalam; India (Andaman Islands);  Malaysia (Malaya and East Malaysia);  Myanmar (Burma) Philippine Islands (including Sulu Archipelago, Negros Oriental, Panay, Luzon);  Singapore  celebensis: Indonesia (Sulawesi).  variabilis: Philippine Islands (including Sulu Archipelago)  
Type locality: Java
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This diurnal, arboreal species is found in both primary and secondary tropical moist forest up to 1,500 m elevation (Cox et al. 1998). It has been recorded from coconut plantations adjacent to forests, rural villages, tree-shaded gardens, and within the attics of old houses (Stuebing and Inger 1999; A. Diesmos pers. comm.). It is oviparous, laying clutches of between five and eight eggs (Cox et al. 1998).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Vogel, G., Wogan, G., Diesmos, A.C., Gonzalez, J.C. & Inger, R.F.

Reviewer/s
Bowles, P.

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, it occurs in a number of protected areas, is tolerant of a degree of habitat modification, exists as an apparently stable population, and is not subject to any major threats.
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Population

Population
This species is fairly common throughout its range.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
The are no major threats impacting this species globally, however, it may be at some localized risk in heavily deforested areas, such as parts of the Philippines.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species occurs in a number of protected areas within its wide range. Further research is needed on the status of populations on heavily deforested islands in the Philippines, such as Cebu, and the taxonomy of this widespread snake is in need of resolution.
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Wikipedia

Chrysopelea paradisi

Paradise tree snake or Paradise flying snake, Chrysopelea paradisi, is a species of snake found in southeastern Asia. It can, like all species of its genus Chrysopelea, glide by stretching the body into a flattened strip using its ribs. It is mostly found in moist forests and can cover a horizontal distance of about 100 metres in a glide from the top of a tree. Slow motion photography shows an undulation of the snake's body in flight while the head remains relatively stable, suggesting controlled flight. They are mildly venomous with rear fangs and also can constrict their prey, which consists of mostly lizards and bats.

Distribution[edit]

Thailand (incl. Phuket), Indonesia (Bangka, Belitung, Java, Mentawai Archipelago, Natuna Archipelago, Nias, Riau Archipelago, Sumatra, We, Borneo, Sulawesi), Brunei Darussalam; India (Andaman Islands), Malaysia (Malaya and East Malaysia); Myanmar (Burma); Philippine Islands (including Sulu Archipelago, Negros Oriental, Panay, Luzon); Singapore; Race celebensis: Indonesia (Sulawesi).

Race variabilis: Philippine Islands (including Sulu Archipelago)

References[edit]

  • Boie, F. 1827 Bemerkungen über Merrem's Versuch eines Systems der Amphibien, 1. Lieferung: Ophidier. Isis van Oken, Jena, 20: 508–566.

External links[edit]

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