One of the most stunning species, green tree pythons are fast getting popular among reptile keepers. There are some rather astonishing facts and details about this snake.
Green tree pythons are named after their stunning green body color. However, the color and pattern of the stripes may vary from individuals in one locality to another. These snakes are native to New Guinea, Indonesia, and certain parts of Australia. They are mainly found in the rainforests and dwell on trees and shrubs. These stunning species of snake is very popular among reptile lovers too.
As the name rightly suggests, this snake is predominantly green in color. There are color variants that have different shades and patterns on their body. While some are bright green with a broken stripe (of white or yellow color) on their back, some others have a solid vertical stripe and a bluish-green color.
You may also find these pythons with yellowish bodies, having shades of white or blue. Some of the adult snakes may have spots of blue, white or yellow, all over their body. Young ones are red, orange or yellow with black and white flecks.
Green tree pythons can grow to a length of four to seven feet. Most of the adults are found to have a body length of four to five feet. Compared to other types of pythons, these ones are smaller and have a slender body.
But, they have a lifespan of around 20 years and sometimes more than that. If well cared for, in captivity, they may live up to 15 years or more.
The green tree python resembles the South American emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus), to a large extent. Both these species are found in almost similar ecological environment, in their respective countries.
Only thing that distinguishes the two is that tree boas have elongated snout and bigger heads (that are more flat). These pythons have more compact and sculpted heads. Unlike the broken vertebral stripe of the python, the boa has ladder like horizontal, vertebral markings.
One of the interesting features of these snakes is their thermoreceptive pits that are found on the scales on the upper jaw, around the mouth. This feature helps them to find out their prey, especially during night. Due to the thermoreceptive pits, these snakes can sense changes in temperature.
If a warm-blooded or cold-blooded animal reaches within the range of this python, it can sense the change in temperature. These snakes are found to sleep during the day and ground forage at night.
They have prehensile tail, which is used to hold on to branches. Most of these snakes are arboreal and are found coiled on tree branches, resting their head in the center (of the coil). This is its normal resting position.
Care in Captivity
Green tree pythons are very popular as pets. They are commonly referred to as 'Chondros', the name that is derived from their former genus, Chondropython. They are said to be aggressive and vicious, but these pythons are calm and docile, unless provoked.
However, those caught from the wild, may be aggressive for a long time, as it may take time, for them to get adjusted to the new environment. Captive-bred ones are normally gentle and calm.
Proper housing is one of the important aspects of care. While keeping this snake as a pet, you should construct the vivarium with more natural settings. Apart from being aesthetically pleasing, it is good for the inhabitant too.
If the snake likes its habitat, it will show better feeding response and grows quicker. A vivarium of 90 cm length x 60 cm width x 60 cm height is ample for an adult.
A large housing with perching branches may make the snake active and prevent it from becoming overweight and lethargic. A 30 cm-cubed enclosure is a good size for juveniles, but, one can also use an aquarium for this purpose. Never use original aquarium lid, instead, replace it with specialist (cork) lid.
The temperature and humidity levels must be monitored regularly. An average temperature of the cage must be 85 to 78° F in summer and 85 to 65° F during winter. A humidity level of 60 to 80% is preferred for these snakes. A basking spot (with a temperature of around 85 to 87° F) must also be provided.
This python is carnivorous. In the wild, they are found to feed on warm-blooded animals like birds, lizards and small rodents (rabbits, mice), but, in captivity, these snakes can be fed with baby chicks and small rats.
It is recommended that the food offered should not be larger than the girth of the snake (girth denotes the widest part of the snake, that is, the middle part of the body). The food must be freshly killed or frozen and thawed. You have to feed them once in every ten to fourteen days.
Another important factor to keep in mind, is the supply of fresh water. Keep water in a large, clean bowl that is sturdy. Hatchlings should be given newborn pinky mice. These snakes are found to be most active during the evening and it is the best time for feeding them.
As they are mostly inactive, you have to keep a check on their body weight. You must never attempt to feed these snakes with your hand.
The female breeds once a year and is oviparous, or egg-laying. The breeding season is August to December and the eggs are laid in late November to February. The female needs a nesting box for laying eggs, for this she uses either a hole in a tree or amongst tree roots on the ground.
The clutch size is generally between 15 to 20 eggs, and the leathery-shelled eggs are incubated for about 39 to 65 days, depending on the temperature. The female python coils around the eggs and shivers to raise the temperature of the eggs as well as her body.
Newly hatched pythons are typically lemon yellow, but sometimes, can be brick-red or blue. Hatchlings do not develop the adult green coloring for six to eight months. It is very difficult to breed them in captivity.
This is only a brief overview about green tree python and its care. If you are interested in knowing more about these snakes, you may conduct a deeper study about them. If you plan to adopt one as pet, it will be better to have a thorough knowledge about the requirements of this python, beforehand.
You should not handle one unless and until, it is unavoidable. In such situations, use a snake hook. Never try to forcibly remove the snake from a perch. This may also make it aggressive and it may bite.