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Phylum Chordata > Subphylum Vertebrata > Class Reptilia > shore snakes
Paradise tree snake
Chrysopelea paradisi
Family Colubridae
updated Oct 2016

Where seen? This beautiful snake is often seen in our forests as well as coastal forests.

According to Nick Baker, in Singapore, commonly encountered in a variety of habitats including mangrove, secondary forest, and parks and gardens. An adept climber, its favoured haunt is the crown of coconut palms.

Features: To about 1.2m long. A long slender snake with a cylindrical body. The head is relatively flat and distinct from body with yellow spots in five bands. Colours upperside black 'netting' pattern on golden yellow or green, sometimes with a row of red flowery pattern along the centre. It is mildly venomous.

Soaring Serpents: Also called the 'Flying tree snake' they don't actually fly or glide but instead, perform a sort of parachute jump. To do this, they "suck in their guts" to form a U-shaped half-cylinder along the entire length of their bodies. The outer edges of their belly scales are rigid while the central portion of their belly scales fold upwards. This concave surface acts like a parachute, and increases air resistance to prolong the "flight". The snake has some degree of control, undulating through the air as if swimming, holding its tail rigidly upwards and twisting the tail from side to side for balance. In this way, they can cross as much as 100m, although they crash land clumsily. This allows them to cross long distances quickly, perhaps to catch prey, escape predators or simply to move around. They generally parachute from tree to tree, but sometimes from tree to ground. To achieve this feat, they first have to climb up a tall launch point, which is not a problem as they have ridged (keeled) belly scales to help them grip vertical surfaces.

What does it eat? According to Nick Baker, it hunts small prey, mainly tree-dwelling lizards. Their venom is mild, and affects only their small prey. Their fangs are short, located at the back of the mouth, and are not hypodermic-like; the venom is injected through grooves in the fangs. Thus, they can only inject venom into prey that is well inside their mouths.

Flying babies: Little is known about their breeding habits. They lay 6-11 eggs, hatchlings are 15-20cm long and have the same pattern as the adults but their colours are brighter.

Pulau Ubin, Oct 03

Yellow spots form five bands across the head.

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Feb 12
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

This one landed on the road from a tall tree.
Pulau Ubin, Jan 11

Paradise tree snakes on Singapore shores

Photos of Paradise tree snakes for free download from wildsingapore flickr

Distribution in Singapore on this wildsingapore flickr map



  • Lim, Kelvin K. P. & Francis L K Lim, 1992. A Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of SingaporeSingapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
  • Baker, Nick and Kelvin Lim. 2008. Wild Animals of Singapore: A Photographic Guide to Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians and Freshwater Fishes Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore). 180 pp.
  • Stuebing, Robert B and Robert F. Inger. 1999. A Field Guide to the Snakes of Borneo Natural History Publications (Borneo). 254 pp.
  • Cox, Merel J., Peter Paul van Dijk, Jarujin Nabhitabhata and Kumthorn Thirakhupt. 1998. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore New Holland. pp 144.
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