Welsh Winged Snake

Flying Reptile of Wales.

Physical description: Has a sparkling crest on its head. Wings have circular markings like a peacock's feathers. Feathery skin.

Behavior: Can glide for short distances. Rests in a coiled position. Vicious when wounded. Flies over people's heads when angry. Fond of raiding henhouses.

Habitat: Rocky gorges, waterfalls, and forests.

Distribution: Waterfalls of the Rivers Hepste, Perrdin, and Mellte in Powys; Pont-Nedd-Fechan, Erwood, Ystradgynlais, Radnor Forest, and the Brecon Beacons, Powys; Resolven and Ynys-y-Gerwn, near Aberdulais, Neath Port Talbot; Crug-y-Deryn near Trelech-ar-Bettws, Carmarthenshire; Penmaenmawr, Conwy; the Lleyn Peninsula and Cadair Idris, Gwynedd; the Berwyn Mountains, Denbighshire; the Cambrian Mountains, Ceredigion; Worms Head, Swansea; Penlline Castle, Porthkerry Park, and Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan.

Significant sighting: In the first half of the nineteenth century, a sizable population of winged serpents was said to live in the forest

WELSH WINGED SNAKE 583

around Penlline Castle, northwest of Cow-bridge. In 1909, Marie Trevelyan interviewed several aged residents who either remembered the creatures from childhood or had heard stories about them from parents and grandparents, some of whom had actually hunted these snakes.

Present status: Exterminated in the nineteenth century because of its attacks on poultry farms.

Possible explanations: An actual winged snake of this description in the British Isles would go a long way toward explaining the prevalence of DRAGON legends in the United Kingdom.

Sources: Marie Trevelyan, Folklore and Folk-Stories of Wales (London: Elliot Stock, 1909); Chris Barber, Mysterious Wales (Newton Abbot, England: David and Charles, 1982); Karl Shuker, "From Flying Toads to Snakes with Wings," Fate 47 (September 1994): 31-36.

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