The Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis) is a mythical snake for breeders. Belonging to the Pythonidae family, this species has physical and behavioral characteristics that are unlike any other.
In this article, we have compiled a complete description of this unique snake considered one of the most beautiful in the world.
Green Tree Python Facts
The Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis) is undoubtedly one of the most popular species in the reptilian world. As its name suggests, this snake spends most of its time in trees. However, it is not always green.
Many specimens are found in a wide range of colors in the wild and in captivity.
The color of juveniles at birth is different from that of adults. The baby Green Tree Python is usually yellow, red or dark brown/black in color. As they mature, the adult will show color changes to shades of bright green for some, a bright yellow color for others that will retain their juvenile color, and a blue color for the last.
Each color is unique and its evolution is surprising. Watching the color change is one of the most appreciated things by Green Tree Python owners, which makes it one of the most sought after in the world.
This phenomenon undergone by this python is called “ontogenetic color change“, meaning that it adapts to its environment to be able to survive better.
This phenomenon is observed in a different way in other snake species, such as the Common Watersnake (Nerodia Sipedon) or the Aquatic Garter Snake (Thamnophis Atratus), which modify their diet according to the environment in which they find themselves.
Specimens with a green color are more arboreal than others (yellow or blue) because they blend more easily into the trees, among the leaves.
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This snake is quite easy to recognize because its body coloration is intense. Its body is relatively thin and slender.
Its elongated head is diamond shaped, and, like all other members of its family, the scales on its head are irregular and granular. Its head is also very thick and contrasts with its compressed body.
Finally, it has long and straight teeth as well as vertical pupils like any nocturnal species.
Like many ophids, the Green Python has a row of thermoreceptors at the top and bottom of its mouth that allow it to notice temperature variations and detect its prey.
Green Tree Python Size
The length of the Green Tree Python varies depending on the locality and can reach quite impressive dimensions (although it is far from the longest snakes in the world). Its size usually does not exceed 5ft (1,5m), but some specimens can reach up to 6ft (1,8m), even 6.5ft (2m) in rare occasions.
Note: As with other species, females are generally larger and heavier than males.
The average weight of an adult male varies between 2lbs (900gr) and 2.6lbs (1,2kg).
The Green Tree Python is a non-venomous snake that almost never bites unless it feels in danger. This ophidian is mainly arboreal, which means that it spends most of its time in the top of trees. In fact, it is the most arboreal species of the Python family.
Despite its peaceful nature, it is a reptile that does not like to be handled too much. It tends to be stressed easily, although this varies according to the breed and character of each specimen.
Babies under one year old are the most complicated to handle because they don’t let themselves be caught. It is not advisable to touch them because they are very sensitive, especially in their spine.
Where Does the Green Tree Python Live ?
The Green Tree Python is native to Southeast Asia. The geographical area of origin of this snake is called Australasia. It can be found on the island of New Guinea and the surrounding islands to the west of it. It is also possible to see it on the northwest coast of Australia, on the Cape York peninsula.
It lives mainly in tropical forests, but can also be found in young forests. Being an arboreal species, it spends most of its time in trees.
Adults prefer to live inside forests, while juveniles will prefer open environments, such as forest edges.
This snake competes for a part of its geographic area with one of its cousins: the Carpet Python. This sharing leads to a conflict between these two species in terms of the territory they occupy and the food they eat. It is quite easy to distinguish them by their physical appearance and size.
What Do Green Tree Pythons Eat ?
Although it is a species that spends most of its time in trees, the Green Tree Python does not enjoy birds very much. It prefers to eat small mammals (like rodents), and also other reptiles (like geckos).
Juveniles and adults adopt a different diet. Smaller Pythons tend to catch diurnal reptiles, while larger ones seek nocturnal terrestrial rodents.
Note: the amount of food is proportional to the size of the specimen.
How does it hunt ?
The specificity of this snake is to stalk its prey and to kill them by constriction, that is to say to wrap itself around them to suffocate them. In order to ambush them, it camouflages itself in a tree branch by remaining motionless and waits for its prey to get closer to fall on it and capture it.
Therefore, its activity level is quite low compared to most other ophids because it does not “really” chase its prey.
When hunting, this reptile adopts a very particular posture: the stalking position. This method, which consists in extending the front part of its body on the branch and wrapping the back part around it to avoid falling, allows it to react very quickly if a prey presents itself to it.
This posture should not be confused with its resting position, during which it is completely wrapped around its branch to be as discreet as possible.
The activity level of Green Pythons evolves with age. When they are young, these animals hunt their prey during the day. Once adult, they will adopt a nocturnal behavior. This change is in fact an adaptation according to the rhythm of activity of their prey.
There is also a difference according to the sex of the animal. Females are more active than males and change their position more regularly. On the other hand, males are more vagrant, especially because they have to change location to find a female to mate with.
Green Tree Python Predators
This snake has very few enemies in its natural environment. The Mangrove Monitor and the Marsupial are the only animals it fears in the wild along with raptors.
To protect itself from predators, this reptile uses its thin body as camouflage as well as its resting position (seen above).
Human is also a formidable predator for him. Although this animal is distributed over a large geographical area, the reduction of its habitat due to forest fires and deforestation is becoming a real threat. At the moment, it is not considered endangered, but it could be in the coming years.
It has never been possible to analyze the breeding habits of the Green Tree Python in the wild. Therefore, it is not possible to establish a precise mating system in this species.
However, several things can be inferred:
- Since there is no sexual dimorphism, males do not compete for females
- The reproduction cycle takes place all year round (more in autumn, winter)
- After breeding, the female stops eating and looks for a place to make her nest (mainly on top of trees).
- As with other Pythons, the female incubates her eggs
- The average incubation period is 50 days
- The female lays between 5 and 35 eggs
- Juveniles take several years to reach sexual maturity
- This ophidian does not seem to reproduce every year because few newborns are observed each year
Green Tree Python Enclosure
If you want to adopt a Green Tree Python as a pet, it is important to respect certain conditions to contribute to its well-being, and this starts with a suitable terrarium.
Contrary to popular belief, this snake will need a terrarium that is longer than it is wide. Indeed, when they are active, they move horizontally from tree to tree and not vertically. Horizontal space will therefore be much more essential to them. A simple rule to define the height of its “home” is that it can easily reach the ground from the highest point.
As you have understood, this species is arboreal. It will therefore need tree branches at different heights to hang from.
It will also need a water container in which it can drink but also immerse itself. You can place it on the ground, but you can also put one up near a perch.
Temperature and lighting
The Green Python doesn’t need spectrum lighting to metabolize calcium, but it can be interesting to bring out its beautiful colors.
In order to best reproduce its natural environment, this snake will need 12 hours of light per day. It will also need a warm and humid place to feel good. In the wild, this reptile rarely experiences temperatures below 91°F (33°C). For humidity, it will need a place that offers a humidity level between 40% and 70%.
Emerald Tree Boa vs Green Tree Python
This species is often confused with the Emerald Tree Boa (Corallus Caninus), although they live in very different places from each other. Their similarity is mainly due to the fact that they have evolved in almost identical habitats and therefore have adapted their behavior and appearance to their environment.
Now you know everything about this atypical snake which has a unique behavior and appearance.
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