Chrysopelea paradisi (Boie, 1827)
by Ms. Noor Faradiana Binti Md Fauzi & Mr. Mohammad Shahfiz Azman
© Bukhari, A.

Chrysopelea paradisi is a swift-moving snake from the family Colubridae. It is typically known as Paradise Flying Snake or sometimes called Paradise Tree Snake. The snake is native to Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippine Islands, Singapore and Bangladesh (Das, 2010).

This slender snake has a depressed head, large eyes and a long tail. Its dark upper body has an attractive pattern of yellow spots. Some individuals are easily recognised by their beautiful rows of three to four pink or red spots on the dorsal near the vertebral column. This cold-blooded reptile can grow up to 1.5 m long (Das, 2010).

It can glide through the air and is thus commonly known as a "flying snake". This ability comes from its unique cross-sectional shape that acts as a lifting surface in the absence of wings (Holden et al., 2014). It can glide remarkably from tree to tree, by flattening the body so that the ventral surface becomes concave and then projecting itself into the air from a high branch, whilst making sinuous snake-like movements at a considerable distance.

This back-fanged snake owns mild venom for humans and is only effective for its small prey, primarily tree-dwelling lizards (Toh et al., 2011; Ecology Asia, 2022). This diurnal and arboreal species inhabits forested habitats in lowland and submontane areas that elevate up to 1,500 m. It has also been recorded in plantations, rural villages and tree-shaded gardens (Das, 2010). This snake is also oviparous, which means it produces eggs, and the young hatch after being expelled from the body. The laying clutches usually consist of five or eight eggs (Das, 2010).

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, this snake is categorised as Least Concern and is protected under the Malaysian Wildlife Act 2010. To date, there are no major threats to this species globally. However, it is collected in small numbers for the international pet trade (IUCN, 2022).

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