Golden Tree Snake

Golden Tree Snake

Gliding snake, Ornate flying snake, Golden flying snake, Gold and black tree snake, Flying tree snake

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Suborder
Family
SPECIES
Chrysopelea ornata
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
4-12 yrs
LENGTH
up to 130 cm

The Golden tree snake is a mildly venomous species of colubrid snake found in both South and Southeast Asia. This strikingly looking snake is very unusual in that it is capable of a type of gliding flight. It is also rear-fanged. The Golden tree snake is usually green in color, with black cross-hatching and yellow or gold-colored accents. It has a flattened head with constricted neck, a blunt nose, and large eyes with round pupils.

Distribution

Golden tree snakes are found in India (North Bengal), Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Western Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China (Hong Kong, Hainan, Yunnan), Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi), and the Philippines. They also occur on the Andaman islands. These snakes inhabit rainforests, dry deciduous forests, plantations, and are also common and have adapted well to human habitats.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Golden tree snakes are solitary and arboreal. Their gliding ability makes them capable of moving from tree to tree with relative ease. These snakes are excellent climbers, being able to move across even the smallest of branches and even straight up trees with few branches by using the edges of rough bark. They are frequently seen moving up a coconut palm, or up vertical rock faces in graceful curves, gripping the somewhat uneven surfaces with their scales. They tend to be nervous, fast-moving snakes, and attempt to flee if disturbed, but generally do not hesitate to bite if handled. Although mildly venomous, their venom is not considered to be dangerous to humans. It is intended to assist in subduing fast-moving, arboreal prey. Golden tree snakes hunt by day stalking or pursuing their prey and seizing it by the neck, which is then crushed in its strong jaws. In pursuit of prey, these snakes may even drop down out of the crown of coconut palms.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Golden tree snakes are carnivores and eat small arboreal prey, such as lizards, bats, and small rodents. They might also feed on bird eggs, insects, and occasionally snakes.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
May-June
FEMALE NAME
female
MALE NAME
male
BABY NAME
snakelet
BABY CARRYING
6-12 eggs

Golden tree snakes are oviparous and lay 6 to 12 elongated eggs in May and June. The young hatch in June and measure 114-152 mm (4​.5 to 6 in) long. Maturity is typically reached at about 1 m (3.3 ft) in length.

Population

Population threats

Golden tree snakes are not considered endangered at present. However, they are often indiscriminately killed, because of fear and are sometimes cooked for food. In recent years, Golden tree snakes have also become popular in the exotic pet trade and many imported specimens often die quickly due to the stress of captivity.

Population number

Presently, the Golden tree snake is not included in the IUCN Red List and its conservation status has not been evaluated.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Golden tree snake is the largest species of flying snake. However, due to its size, its gliding ability is considered weak.
  • The Golden tree snake, like others of its genus, glides or parachutes. This is presumably done to cover distances faster, to escape predators, to catch prey, or to move around in forests. Flying snakes usually parachute from tree to tree, but sometimes launch themselves from trees onto the ground. They are able to cross as much as 100 m.
  • Flying snakes are able to glide better than flying squirrels and other gliding animals, despite the lack of limbs, wings, or any other wing-like projections.
  • Golden tree snakes perfrom their flights by climbing up to a height, which they do easily by virtue of their keeled belly scales, and then launching themselves into mid-air. The snake contracts its ventral surface inwards to form a U-shaped concave depression along the entire length of their bodies, holding the outer edges of the ventral scales rigid. This concave surface acts like a parachute, and increases air resistance, allowing the snake to glide forward with the thrust of its launch. The snake undulates through the air, in a swimming-like motion. It holds the tail rigidly upwards, and by twisting the tail from side to side, it attains balance. This motion allows it to propel forward, landing clumsily at the end of its flight.
  • In southern parts of Thailand, Golden tree snakes often hide in the thatch of the roofing material inside bungalows to prey on geckos and mice during the night. In these areas, one can almost be certain to be relatively close to these snakes most anywhere as they may be hiding in the crown of the nearby coconut palm, under the roots of a tree, or even curled up in a potted plant.

References

1. Golden Tree Snake on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysopelea_ornata

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