Feb 17, 2009

Yes, I Said Flying

I'm posting on this snake not because it's ugly (in fact, it's one of your more attractive vipers), but because I have no other outlet for when someone presents me with such a remarkable creature (as stolen from Atom). And though you may not find it ugly, you might still find yourself thankful that you don't live in Southeast Asia.

Behold the flying snake. That's right, I said flying. They don't really fly (you need wings or superpowers or warp coils for that), but they do glide. And when it comes to gliding, they put flying squirrels and other gliding mammals to shame (finally, someone can take that uppity flying squirrel down a notch or two).

That's because they can glide to distances of over 100 meters. That's a football field, my friends. How do they do it? They launch themselves into the air. That's it. They coil up and launch. Where they land (which is far from graceful) is more a function of ballistics than actual flying technique. But they are able to expand to twice their width, thereby gaining some additional gliding surface. And they do seem to be able to negotiate their path somewhat once airborne. The do so by the time-honored slither. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.















They are excellent climbers, as aided by the keeled scales on their bellies. Why do the fly? Do they need a reason? Really? Would you need a reason? But these snakes usually do have a reason: to escape a predator, to hunt down something (I can't imagine what's going through a mouse's head when he peeks over his shoulder and sees one of these careening towards him), or just for good ol' fashioned getting around.

...SPROING...























So, the next time you're in Southeast Asia, look up, think vertical. Not all threats come at you from ground level. Not even snakes. Thankfully, they're mild tempered, and mild bevenomed (that's not a real word, is it). That's some solace. Otherwise you'd have an ill-tempered, lethal, flying snake. I don't know if I could live in that world.

Thanks for the article, Becca.

9 comments:

Ugly Deaf Muslim Punk Gurl! said...

UGH. Snakes scare me, but a flying snake is even scarier!!!

amy hughes said...

My husband lived in the Phillipines for a couple of years and the locals kept telling him to keep away from certain areas because of the flying snakes. He thought they were being superstitious!

Alice said...

The picture of the snake flying literally gave me goosebumps. Thanks for making me more afraid of something that I was already terrified of.

Otter Mom said...

It's a lovely snake, the colors are georgeous. I had heard of them but had never seen a picture of them before. Yes, it would be scary to see one flying at you! But they are still beautiful animals.

Kit said...

Awesome scale pattern, but the last thing I want to do is have to look up for flying snakes... or rather snakes 'falling with style'.

Raging Wombat said...

I guess some superstitions can be founded in reality.

Krister Löfgren said...

The flying snakes of the genus Chrysopelea are amazing snakes, no question about that, but they are not vipers but colubrids. ;)

All the best,
Krister Löfgren,
Sweden

Geek Central Station said...

Aww, you guys should read "Verdi" by Jannell Cannon. It's a really cute kids book about a snake that like to fling himself around from trees. It might change your mind about flying snakes.

Anonymous said...

lol. "sigh, I woke up on the wrong side today, lets hope I don´t get any lethal flying snakes jumping on me at least" *runs out*