Reptiles and Amphibians of Thailand

Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Paradise Tree Snake

Chrysopelea paradisi

This snake is found in Thailand but not within Bangkok itself
Paradise Tree Snake Flying Snake Chrysopelea paradisi งูเขียวร่อน malaysia
Paradise Flying Snake in Malaysia (© Konrad Mebert)

English name: Paradise Tree Snake (aka “Paradise Flying Snake”, “Garden Flying Snake”)
Scientific name: Chrysopelea paradisi
Thai name: งูเขียวร่อน (Ngu Kieo Ron)

Description: To 150cm long. A long, somewhat slender snake. Body scales are black with a light green or yellow dot in the middle of each. Often a row of three red or pink dots along the top of the body. Head is black with light green or yellow bars. Underbelly is greenish-yellow to light green.

Relevant scale counts: 17 midbody scale rows, dorsal scales smooth or with weak keels. Ventral scales are clearly keeled.

Similar Species: Golden Tree Snake has green and black streaked scales rather than green dots.
Twin-barred Tree Snake is primarily red on top with brown sides and no green background.
Green pit vipers (such as Cryptelytrops albolabris) have a triangular head, pits behind their nostrils, and lack the black coloration.

Range: Southern Thailand and Myanmar through Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Habitat: Moist forests up to 1520m, as well as adjacent plantations and gardens. Very highly arboreal.

Place in the ecosystem: This snake eats lizards, bats, rodents, and smaller snakes. The juveniles are eaten by birds of prey and larger snakes.

Danger to humans: The Paradise Tree Snake bites aggressively when captured and is a mildly venomous rear-fanged species, but its venom appears to pose no danger to humans.

Conservation status and threats: No known conservation issues, though deforestation could be a threat in some areas.

Interesting facts: The Paradise Tree Snake is the most proficient of the “flying snakes”. These snakes cannot actually fly, but glide to some degree by flattening out their body into a triangular shape and forming a U-cavity with their underbelly as they jump from high branches. Their head stays straight towards the target while the body undulates back and forth, the shape of the body providing a significant amount of lift which allows it to control the pace and direction of the fall. It is believed that this behavior is used to move about the forest, catch prey, and as a defense mechanism against predators. They can cover as much as 100m in a single leap if they start from a tall enough tree.

References:
Thai National Parks: Paradise Tree Snake
Thai National Parks: Golden Tree Snake
IUCN: Garden Flying Snake
Aeordynamics of the flying snake Chrysopelea paradisi
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Southeast Asia

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