Ornate Flying Snake ( Chrysopelea ornata Shaw, 1802 )

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Name
Scientific Name: 
Chrysopelea ornata (Shaw, 1802)
Regional Names: 
English: 
Golden Flying Snake
Gujarati: 
સોનેરી ઉદકણો
Malayalam: 
പനറാകല്‍
Kannada: 
ಅಲಂಕಾರಿಕ ತೇಲುವ ಹಾವು
Photographs: 
Distribution: 
In India its distribution is most of Western Ghats till southern limits of Western Ghats in Maharashtra. Also found continiously from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal to whole of North-east states. In east India its more common than South India. Records from Central India (Madhya pradesh) needs confirmation.
Venom Type: 
Neurotoxic
Family: 
Description: 

Average length- 100cm.
Maximum length- 175cm.

Dorsal -
Body long, of moderate thickness and slender. Covered with subequal smooth or weakly keeled scales. Color more of less greenish with variable amount of black on posterior and central of scales. Juveniles have black as dominant which becomes less in adults. From neck to tail top of the dorsal are marked with oval shaped red patches; between these patches black and yellow found and forms a continuous chain of red, black and yellow colors.

Ventral -
Belly scales sharply folded upwards. Color yellowish-green without any pattern.

Head:
Head flattened, elongated and clearly broader than neck. Upper lip yellowish. Ground color black with variable yellow cross lines or series of patches. Large eyes with rounded pupils.

Tail:
Long, slender and thin tail which keeps dorsal body patterns. Subcaudal scales paired in a zigzag manner.

Scalation
Head: 
Supralabial 9; 4th to 6th in contact with eyes; loreal 1 or absent; preocular 1; postocular 2; anterior temporal 2+2.
Dorsal: 
Smooth or weakly keeled scales in 17: 17: 15 rows.
Ventral: 
207-234; with sharp lateral keel pointing upwards; last ventral and anal undivided.
Sub Caudal: 
110-138; paired.
Habitat: 
Ornate Flying Snake is found in wide range of forests including rainforests, mixed and dry deciduous forest, coastal forests etc. Lives in dense and high vegetation. In many parts of its range it is confined in modified forests and can be seen in city outskirts. Choose high tree holes and crevices for roosting and egg laying.
Natural History: 
Diurnal and arboreal. Can be seen during day time at heights. Behavior alert, very fast in arboreal environment. Usually non-offensive but an active snake which can be seen regularly for foraging. On threatening it inflates its much of body and jump away from heights. It choose short distance gliding as the escaping method. Due to light body weight and parachute like belly it can resist mechanical shocks given due to falling from heights. It curves much of fore body and bites as aggressive response. Oviparous. Female lays 6-12 eggs in heights during summer months and new born individuals seen during most of monsoon.
Diet: 
Feeds actively on geckos, frogs, small birds, rodents, bats etc.
Threats: 
General threats are killing due to misidentification and loss of habitat. In West Bengal, Odisha and few North-east states this species is exploited in snake charming work and sold by snake charmers to various communities like other charmers, pet traders & keepers etc. This is one of the most circulated Colubrid in pet trade in its range.
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