Flying Snakes: Our Worst Nightmares Come True

flying snakesPhoto: LA Dawson

If you ever go to South Asia, don’t look up. There might be a snake flying over your head. Yes, snakes can fly despite not having wings.

Most flying snakes only grow to be about four feet long. They flatten their rib cages, contorting their natural shape, and then flatten their heads to vent. Their tails whip around as if to quicken their pace of speed.

Originating from the Colubridae and the Chrysopelea paradisi families, these five species of snakes are harmless to humans. They are mildly venomous, but the venom is used only on their small prey. The venom drips down their fangs as they glide through the air (another good reason not to look up while in South Asia!).

flying snakesPhoto: zarozinia

Scientists have recently revealed that these snakes slither even while in flight, making their wingless bodies do amazing aerial shots and landing without ever hurting themselves. Taking off in a fast 26-33 feet per second rate of speed, these snakes are beautiful while in mid-air.

flying snakesPhoto: mewots

Because of their lack of wings, these snakes can’t fly upward, only in a downward fashion. Just think of their whole body as one big wing, as they squish and contort themselves while in flight, making them able to control where they land.

Ridged bodies allow them to climb the tall launch sites that they jump off from. They prefer to be in trees, not on the ground. They hunt their prey in the air, crushing small animals with their powerful jaws.

flying snakesPhoto: fjota

Though not much is known about them yet, it has been researched that flying snakes hatch about a half dozen or so eggs. Their hatchlings are about 15 cm long.

Not endangered at the moment, they do poorly in captivity and are destined to die because of their lack of being tamed. Most people don’t understand these snake, misguided about their gliding behavior as flying. No one knows why they choose to “fly” or to catch their prey in this fashion.

flying snakesPhoto: axlefoley

The Golden Tree Snake variety is the most aggressive, while the Paradise Tree Snake is the most tame. No one really knows where they sleep, but it is thought that this would probably be hidden in a tree, where they can escape more readily from a predator. Their predators are also unknown at this time.

Obviously, we have a lot to learn about these wonderful creatures. They may also open our horizons as to aerial gliding for humans someday, perhaps in military applications.

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