The arboreal green tree python is an eye-catching and interesting snake. Although it has the word green in its name, this fascinating snake comes isn’t born green.
As juveniles, they may be red, orange and yellow. As they age, they go through a color change process. Brick red younglings will change color several times before finally turning green.
They turn orange, then yellow before finally becoming green. This is a fascinating phenomenon which makes the green tree python a curious yet admirable snake. This species is also known as chondro among breeders and snake enthusiasts.
Quick Reference Section
- Experience Level: Moderate
- Family: Pythonidae
- Scientific Name Morelia viridis
- Risk Factor: Nonvenomous, constrictor
- Average Adult Size: 4.9 to 6 feet (1.50 to 1.80 m)
- Lifespan: 20.6 years
- Clutch Size: 6 to 32 eggs
- Incubation Period: 39 to 65 days
- Food: Frozen mice & rats
- Average Temperature: 88°H/78°L
- Humidity: 40 – 70%
- UVB Lighting: Optional
- Average Price Range: $300 to $500
- Conservation Status: Not listed on the IUCN Red List
Facts and Information
The scientific name of this tree python is Morelia viridis. It is usually vivid green in color, although it isn’t born so. As already explained, it may be red, yellow or orange as a baby.
As an adult, this snake may still retain some of the yellow, red and orange colorations as blotches. This snake bellows to the genus Morelia which contains other pythons such as the popular coastal carpet python.
Just like the carpet python, this species is native to Australasia, in particular Australia, Papua New Guinea (d’Entrecasteaux Islands and Normanby Island), and even Indonesia.
While not as large as the carpet python, the green tree python is still quite a large snake. It can reach lengths of 6.6 feet although this is rare. On average, specimens of this species grow to between 4 and 6 feet, which is quite a respectable length. While adult males weigh 1.1 kg to 1.4 kg, adult females usually weigh about 1.6 kg. They are arboreal snakes and spend almost all their time on tree branches.
Green Tree Python Habitat
Morelia viridis is a tropical rainforest snake and as such specimens are mainly found in rainforests or near rainforests mainly low montane and lowland rainforests. As you can tell, they prefer habitats with a lot of trees, shrubs, and bushes.
Younglings reside solely in areas where sunlight easily reaches the ground such as along the edge of a rainforest or in canopy gaps. Adults, however, prefer closed canopy areas of rainforests. although they climb, a short vivarium with logs and branches is ideal because it provides easy access to their water bowls.
As with all other snakes, ventilation requirements must be met. As such, it is best to acquire a terrarium designed specifically for reptiles. This can be glass or plastic as far as it is front-opening. If the relative humidity levels in your locale are low, you may need to cover a portion of the screen top to reduce rapid loss of moisture.
Juveniles tend not to fare well in large enclosures. They easily get stressed and may refuse to eat which is bad for their health. It is best to start juveniles and babies in a small enclosure (with a volume under 10 gallons).
An excellent choice is the Exo Terra Glass Reptile Terrarium which measures 1 cubic foot. Adults require a much larger terrarium such as the Exo Terra Allglass Terrarium (large wide) which measures 36 x 18 x 18 inches. The door should be front-opening which allows for easy access for maintenance, feeding and misting.
Decorate the terrarium with resting branches/perches for the arboreal snake. It is important for the perches to be securely fastened. Similarly, the branch has to be sturdy so it doesn’t shake or move.
The green tree python is nocturnal and spends most of the day resting on a branch. At night, the snake moves around the enclosure and explore. Several branches and veins can populate the enclosure adding variety and character to the enclosure.
Similarly, you can populate the enclosure with a few plants. This will help increase humidity level and provide hiding spots for the snake. Some fantastic plants to consider include, Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina), Wandering Jew, Dragon Plant (Dracaena), and Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum). Cork barks, Forest Branches (Large), and jungle vines are recommended additions.
Since this species require high humidity, it is preferable to use substrates that improves humidity while limiting bacterial and fungal growth. Similarly, it is important that the substrate isn’t harmful to snakes, for example, cedar shaving. Also, it is best to avoid abrasive substrates such as rocks, stones, gravels, and sand. When in doubt use paper towels.
You can never go wrong with a simple substrate such as paper towels, paper tissues, and newspapers. They may not be aesthetically pleasing, but they are easy to clean and safe for the snake. The main problem with newspapers and paper towels when it comes to tropical rainforest species is its inability to hold moisture for long periods. Better choices include the ReptiChip Premium Coconut Substrate, Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate, and the Zoo Med Repti Bark. All these substrates are excellent at holding moisture.
Spot clean the enclosure every other day. This ensures the enclosure is always tidy and thus easy to clean. Every two to three months change the substrate. Similarly, clean the entire enclosure twice a year, if possible.
As with all snakes, it is necessary that a temperature range is created within the enclosure. This allows the snake to regulate its internal temperature by moving from one temperature zone to another. Because green tree pythons are tropical rainforest reptiles, the temperatures should not fall below 70 F. They don’t brumate.
The Morelia viridis is arboreal and spends little time on the ground. For that reason, a heat map can’t be used to heat the terrarium. Rather a baking lamp should be used. The temperature of the basking area needs to be 86 to 88 F.
While the temperature of the cool end needs to be 78 to 80 F. a thermometer such as the ThermoPro is helpful for tracking the temperatures in the habitat. Similarly, the Evergreen 100 Watt UVA/UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb makes excellent basking lamps.
The green tree python requires high relative humidity levels to thrive. The humidity levels need not drop below 40 percent. As a species native to tropical rainforest, the tree python experiences rain almost every day throughout the year. Similarly, you need to mist the enclosure daily using a spray bottle. The enclosure needs to dry between sprayings.
The snake will drink the water droplets on the leaves, and side of the cage. However, you need to provide a water bowl. The bowl should be heavy and sturdy so it is not easily overturned.
As with most snakes, special UVB lighting is optional. However, to maintain the vivid green coloration of this python, it is a good idea to use a full spectrum light if the snake’s enclosure does not receive sunlight. An excellent full-spectrum light that also provides warm is the Evergreen 100 Watt UVA/UVB Mercury Vapor Bulb which has already been mentioned.
If you use a heat lamp that doesn’t provide full-spectrum light, you can use the Zoo Med Reptisun light to provide the snake with quality light. The lights need to be on for 12 hours, and off for 12 hours each day.
Green Tree Python Setup Video Guide
Feeding the Green Tree Python
Since green tree pythons are ravenous feeders, they can be quite aggressive during feeding time. Regardless of how aggressive the snake is, dead prey is best. Live prey can harm the snake.
When feeding the snake use tongs so you don’t get bitten. Thaw frozen mouse or rat under hot water before feeding it to the snake. The python feeds warm rodents more appealing so ensure the prey is warm when you feed it to the snake.
Feed juveniles a small mouse weekly. Feed yearlings a hopper every seven to ten days. Feed adults a rat or two adult mice every 10 to 14 days. Overfeeding and obesity are common among green tree pythons since they will almost always accept food when it is offered to them.
Since feeding can be a pleasurable experience as it allows keepers to interact with the snake, care has to be taken so you don’t overdo it. Green tree pythons also fast seasonally. Usually during late summer or autumn. This needs to be taken into consideration.
Green Tree Python’s Temperament
The green tree pythons are not a docile pet although they make wonderful display reptiles. they are not the easiest to handle and will attack if not handled properly. This has given them a bad reputation for being aggressive.
If you install a removable perch in its enclosure, you can remove the reptile without disturbing it. When you want to handle the snake, approach from below. Instead of pulling the snake off its resting place, lift it gently and offer your arm as a perch.
As with any snake, remember to not handle it a day or two before feeding, and a day or two after feeding. Similarly, don’t handle it when it is shedding. This snake can regurgitate its meal if handled right after it has eaten.
How to handle a Green Tree Python
Green Tree Python’s Lifespan
In the wild, the green tree pythons don’t live long as long as they do in captivity. Although information of longevity is limited in the wild, it is believed that wild green tree pythons can live to be 15 to 19 years. this is a prediction and may be inaccurate. In captivity, these reptiles live slightly longer with an average lifespan of 20.6 years.
Breeding Green Tree Pythons
While breeding green tree pythons may be challenging, it has been done successfully and regularly. The males reach sexual maturity when they are 2 years old, while females reach sexual maturity when they are 3 years old.
The temperature of the enclosure needs to be dropped at night in other to prepare both sexes for mating. The gravid female lays between 6 to 32 eggs per mating season. The eggs incubate at a temperature of 86 to 88 F. the eggs hatch after about 50 days.
In order to detect health issues, you need to pay close attention to their appearance and behavior. That way you can notice changes in appetite, weight, or movement.
Common health issues that affect this reptile include dehydration, obesity, tail hanging, rectal prolapse (protrusion of bowels outside the cloaca during or after defecation), necrotic stomatitis (mouth rot), and MBD (metabolic bone disease).
If you notice changes such as lethargy, loss of appetite, regurgitation, wheezing cough, or bloody bowels, you should contact your local herp vet.
Pricing and Availability
The availability and pricing of a green tree python depend on the region from which it originates, the coloring and age. For instance, Biak green tree pythons which originate from the Biak island are more common. Other popular variants include Aru, Jayapura, Sorong, Manokwari, and Wamena. Each variant is named after the region they originate from. On average, a specimen of this species cost between $250 and $500.
Although not listed on the IUCN Red List or the CITES, it is possible that wild populations of the species are vulnerable because of the pet trade. A large majority of pet green tree pythons are harvested from the wild, in particular populations in Irian Jaya.
Land degradation caused by logging, and slash and burn agriculture has had an adverse effect on the natural habitat of the species. However, unless the wild population of this species is accurately determined, the conservation status of the Morelia viridis in the wild will remain unknown.
Although not as large as the coastal carpet python, the green tree python is a large snake that needs a large terrarium. They also require high humidity. Also, care needs to be taken when handling them as they can be aggressive and defensive if handled roughly.
Regardless of all this, green tree pythons are popular pets. they are brightly colored, and caring for them is a rewarding experience. If you have any additional information or questions about this python, kindly leave a comment.