Tangled skeins: a first report of non-captive mating behavior in the Southeast Asian Paradise Flying Snake (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae: Chrysopelea paradisi)

Main Article Content

Hinrich Kaiser
Johnny Lim
Heike Worth
Mark O’Shea


We describe the courtship behavior of the Paradise Flying Snake, Chrysopelea paradisi, from a series of images taken near Sandakan, eastern Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia. During the episode observed, four males moved together with a female in various states of entanglement, traveling at ground level and into a series of bushes.  The observations took place over the course of a 30-min period until the snakes were lost to view.  Our report is the first direct observation of mating behavior in C. paradisi in the wild and provides another rare glimpse of the multi-male courtship in Southeast Asian colubrids.


Article Details

Short Communications
Author Biography

Hinrich Kaiser, Department of Biology, Victor Valley College, 18422 Bear Valley Road, Victorville, California 92395, USA; and Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA

Professsor, Department of Biology


Alcala, A.C. (1986). Guide to the Philippine Flora and Fauna: Vol. X. Amphibians and Reptiles. University of the Philippines.

Aleksiuk, M. & P.T. Gregory (1974). Regulation of seasonal mating behavior in Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis. Copeia 1974: 681–689; http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1442681

Barbour, T. (1912). A contribution to the zoögeography of the East Indian Islands. Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 44: 1–203.

Brongersma, L.D. (1947). Zoological notes from Port Dickson. 1. Amphibians and reptiles. Zoologische Mededelingen 27: 300–308.

Boulenger, G.A. (1912). A Vertebrate Fauna of the Malay Peninsula from the Isthmus of Kra to Singapore, Including Adjacent Islands. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, United Kingdom.

Cox, M.J. (1991). The Snakes of Thailand and Their Husbandry. Krieger Publishing, Malabar, Florida, USA.

Cox, M.J., M.F. Hooer, L. Chanhome & K. Thirakhupt (2012). The Snakes of Thailand. Chulalongkorn University Museum of Natural History, Bangkok, Thailand.

Das, I. (2007). A Pocket Guide: Amphibians and Reptiles of Brunei. Natural History Publications (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd., Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Das, I. (2010). Reptiles of South-East Asia. New Holland Publishers, London, United Kingdom.

David, P. & G. Vogel (1996). The Snakes of Sumatra. An Annotated Checklist and Key with Natural History Notes. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

de Haas, C.J.P. (1950). Checklist of the snakes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago (Reptilia, Ophidia). Treubia 20: 511–625.

de Lang, R. & G. Vogel (2005). The Snakes of Sulawesi. Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Evans, G.H. (1904). Notes on Burmese reptiles. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 16: 169–171.

Greene, M.J. & R.T. Mason (2000). Courtship, mating, and male combat of the brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis. Herpetologica 56: 166–175.

Gregory, P.T. (1975). Arboreal mating behavior in the red-sided garter snake. Canadian Field-Naturalist 89: 461–462.

Grismer, L.L. (2011). Amphibians and Reptiles of the Seribuat Archipelago (Peninsular Malaysia) - A Field Guide. Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Haile, N.S. (1958). The snakes of Borneo, with a key to the species. Sarawak Museum Journal 8: 743–771.

Jafari, F., S.D. Ross, P.P. Vlachos & J.J. Socha (2014). A theoretical analysis of pitch stability during gliding in flying snakes. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 9: 025014; http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-3182/9/2/025014

Koch, A. (2012). Discovery, Diversity, and Distribution of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Sulawesi and its Offshore Islands. Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

Kaiser, H., J. Lim & M. O’Shea (2012). Courtship entanglements: a first report of mating behavior and sexual dichromatism in the Southeast Asian Keel-bellied Whipsnake, Dryophiops rubescens (Gray, 1835). Herpetology Notes 5: 365–368.

McKay, J.L. (2006). A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Bali. Krieger, Malabar, Florida, USA.

Manthey, U. & W. Grossmann (1997). Amphibien und Reptilien Südostasiens. Natur und Tier-Verlag, Münster, Germany.

Mason, R.T. & D. Crews (1985). Female mimicry in garter snakes. Nature 316: 59–60; http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/316059a0

Mertens, R. (1968). Die Arten und Unterarten der Schmuckbaumschlangen (Chrysopelea). Senckenbergiana 49: 191–217.

Rivas, J. & G.M. Burghardt (2001). Understanding sexual size dimorphism in snakes: wearing the snake’s shoes. Animal Behaviour 62: F1–F6; http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/anbe.2001.1755

Rivas, J. & G.M. Burghardt (2005). Snake mating systems, behavior, and evolution: the revisionary implications of recent findings. Journal of Comparative Psychology 119: 447–454; http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0735-7036.119.4.447

Sajdak, R.A. (2010). Hunters in the Trees: A Natural History of Arboreal Snakes. Krieger, Malabar, Florida, USA.

Schlegel, H. (1837). Essai Sur la Physionomie des Serpens. Partie Descriptive [Vol. 2]. M.H. Schonekat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Shine, R., T. Langkilde & R.T. Mason (2003). Confusion within ‘mating balls’ of garter snakes: does misdirected courtship impose selection on male tactics? Animal Behaviour 66: 1011–1017; http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/anbe.2003.2301

Smith, M.A. (1943). The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. Vol. 3. Serpentes. Taylor & Francis, London, United Kingdom.

Stuebing, R.B. (1991). A checklist of the snakes of Borneo. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 39: 323–362.

Stuebing, R.B. (1994). A checklist of the snakes of Borneo. Addenda and corrigenda. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 42: 931–936.

Stuebing, R.B. & R.F. Inger (1999). A Field Guide to the Snakes of Borneo. Natural History Publications (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd., Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.

Taylor, E.H. (1965). The serpents of Thailand and adjacent waters. University of Kansas Science Bulletin 45: 609–1096.

Uetz, P., Ed. (2015). The Reptile Database. Accessed at http://www.reptile-database.org on 24 May 2012.

van Rooijen, J. & M. van Rooijen (2007). The land snakes of the Santubong Peninsula, Sarawak, Borneo: a preliminary list of species with natural history notes. Russian Journal of Herpetology 14: 27–38.

Wall, F. (1908). A popular treatise on common Indian snakes. Part VI. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 18(2): 227–243.

Wall, F. (1921). Ophidia Taprobanica, or the Snakes of Ceylon. H.R. Cottle, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Wall, F. & G.H. Evans (1901). Burmese snakes. Notes on specimens, including 45 species of ophidians. Fauna collected in Burma, 1900. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 13: 611–620.

Wallach, V., K.L. Williams & J. Boundy (2014). Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA.

Most read articles by the same author(s)