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