Friday, November 16, 2012

Creature Feature: Paradise Tree Snake.

Flying serpents are one of the staples of mythology around the world. Every place seems to have some sort of sky snake, possibly representing a rainbow. Even the Greeks had a few heavenly sun-snakes that pulled Medea's chariot.  Just ask conspiracy theorists: serpent deities are clear proof of our reptilian overlords, right?

But that's impossible. Something can't fly without limbs, ri- 

What the flying fark?!

That airborne serpent is a paradise tree snake. The paradise tree snake is one of a genus of snakes that can glide. It and its relatives are all native to the rainforests of Southeast Asia. It is a diurnal predator, feeding on birds, rodents, and lizards. It also has a fair amount of predators, being a relatively small snake.

Oh, and it can fly. Technically, it can glide for over 79 feet. Yep.

To those of you who blinked and missed it: To start gliding, the snake The people in this video honestly do a better job of explaining the physics behind this snake's gliding than I ever could, but in layman's terms, how many of you know of flying rings? Yeah, it's kinda like that, only alive. 

As if a flying snake was not enough to scare quite a few people, these gliding snakes are able to steer. To put into perspective how hard this is, other gliding animals with limbs have a hard time steering in mid-air. Precisely because these snakes slither through the sky, they have excellent control.  Cool...if you're a snake person, that is.

Paradise tree snakes are not readily available in the exotic pet trade. They're around, sure, but by no means common. Dietary questions come up; anoles and pinkies are usually the answer. Beware of any of these that you find at herp shows. Even the snake in the video had some nasty parasites. They are also rear-fanged venomous, so please check your local laws before buying!

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