Tuesday, July 28, 2015


‘When pigs fly’ is one of my favorite expressions.  The expression is used to represent something that’s never going to happen, like winning the lottery.   It conjures up a picture that we can laugh at because we know for certain that pigs can’t fly. But how does the thought of a flying snake hit you? Yes, I said flying snake. There actually are certain species of snakes that do indeed ‘fly.’ 

So this week, I thought I’d write a short post on flying snakes, because, well what could be more fascinating than that? Let’s get to it.  

There are five species of flying snakes and they live from western India to the Indonesian archipelago. According to my research there is one species, the Twin-Barred snake, that is endangered, but I could not find data to support this statement. Nevertheless, just the idea of a flying snake was so fascinating to me that I just had to bring you all a bit of information, and of course a great video. So read on! 

Here is a list of the five known species of snakes that ‘fly.’ I have given you their common names.
The Paradise Tree Snake
The Twin-Barred Tree Snake
The Golden Tree Snake
The Moluccan Flying Snake
The Sri Lanka Flying Snake

It was previously believed that these snakes ‘parachuted,’ but scientists have discovered that there is much more to their flying skills than that. 

(Photo credit: Jake Socha)

So how do they do it? First, let’s make something quite clear. These snakes can’t fly in the ordinary sense of the word. They cannot gain altitude and they don’t have much control over their trajectory. They simply launch themselves and glide. Sounds simple, but it’s not. These snakes have evolved differently. They have the ability to flatten their rib cages so their bodies are twice their normal width essentially making themselves into a wing. This flattening of their bodies provides the surface area they need to drift on air. Also, gliding snakes are small snakes. At most, they are six feet in length, and the smaller they are, the better they glide.

(Photo credit: Jake Socha)

Their glide starts with the snake slithering out to the end of a branch, creating a ‘j’ shape with their tail, and then ‘jumping’ from the branch. In mid flight they stretch out and flatten their ribs. They move their heads back and forth, creating a wave-like motion that helps them stay aloft. As they descend, they gain speed and their tail end touches down first, helping to soften their landing.

Diagram credit: hpcwire.com (see link below)

Jake Socha has studied flying snakes, and has filmed them in an effort to understand the physics of their flight. The following two videos document his findings. Enjoy!

Flying Snakes Revealed 

Incredible Flying Snake 

Oh, and one more thing. These snakes are not terribly dangerous. Unlike other venomous snakes, their fangs are located toward the back of their mouth. Even if they do bite, their bite is not deadly. 

To learn more about flying snakes, visit the following sites:

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and to share the information with your family.

Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!