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Care Sheet - Amazon Tree Python (Morelia viridis)

Green Tree Pythons are nocturnal (active at night) and arboreal (tree dwelling), a real gem
of the rainforest. This utmost stunning species of snake is very popular among reptile
hobbyists. As the name suggests, it is predominantly in green colour. Although some
snakes may be yellow or blue with flecks of black, white and yellow colour. Babies are red
or yellow with black and white flecks.
There geographical location range from New Guinea, Papua, Iran, Java and reaching as
far as the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. The keeping of this snake is becoming more
popular in the hobby.
Green Tree Python is an arboreal snake with developed prehensile (grasping) tail which
helps in movement amongst the branches. The prehensile tail, tight coil and colour of this
snake are adaptations which help for life in the treetops. They spend most of the time
coiled around branches with head in middle of the coil. This is its normal resting position.
They have thermo-sensory pits along their lips which helps them to sense any change in
temperature. For example, if a warm blooded animal reaches within the range the python
can notice the change in the temperature and same if a cold blooded animal reaches
within the range. Evidences show that they sleep during the day and ground forage at
The Green Tree Python resembles the South American emerald tree boa (Corallus
caninus). They are found in same ecological environment in their respective countries.
Only thing that distinguishes the two is that the tree boas have elongated snout, bigger

heads and the appearance of the head is flatter.

The python has a more compact and sculpted head. Unlike the broken line vertebral stripe
of the python, the boa has ladder like vertebral markings. This could be an example of
convergence between two different species in similar habitats, but remote. Distinctively it is
considered to be a relative of the amethystine python.
Green Tree Python is carnivorous in food habits as are other snakes. In wild they mostly
feed on warm blooded animals like birds and small rodents (rats, mice), but in captivity are
offered baby chicks and small rats. It is recommended that the food should not be larger
than the girth of the snake. The girth denotes the widest part of the snake, that is, the
middle part of the body.
Hatchling Green Tree Python should be given pinkie mice. They should be fed with
appropriate size food one or two food items once a week. As they grow their food size
should increased. As an adult, they should be offered a larger rat or mouse, but their food
intake can be gradually decreased to once every two or three weeks.
The female Green Tree Python 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 requires 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 between15-20 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 are brick-red or blue. Hatchlings do not
develop the adult green colouring for six to eight months.
While keeping this snake as a pet, you should make the vivarium a more natural setup.
This is aesthetically pleasing as well as it adds to the general condition of the snake. If the
snake likes its habitat, it will show better feeding response and looks healthier.
A vivarium of 90cm length x 60cm width x 60com height is ample for an adult Green Tree
Python. A large housing with natural dcor and branches stops the snake from becoming
overweight and lethargic, it improves the quality life for the snake.
Heating and Lighting:
Green tree pythons require consistently high daytime temperatures and reasonably warm
night-time temperatures if it is expected to thrive. The ambient temperature within the
enclosure should be in the upper 80's during the day with a localized basking area that
approaches (but should not exceed) 90 degrees. In the evenings, temperatures may safely
drop as low as 75 degrees with no ill effects, although a few degrees warmer is
recommended for younger animals.
Heat can be provided in a number of ways, however, as arboreal snakes that spend little
time on the ground, under tank heating pads may be less effective with Chondros than
with other species of snake. Instead, ceramic heat emitters, infra-red heat bulbs, and
standard basking bulbs are highly recommended primary heat sources. Always use a
safety cage with the ceramic or bulbs, also use with the correct type of thermostat.
Temperature should be monitored regularly with the use of at least 2 high quality
thermometers. Ideally, there should be a thermometer placed on both the warmest and
coolest ends of the enclosure. This will ensure that the snake has a safe range of
temperatures available to it without the risk of overheating or chilling.
While Chondros do not seem to require full spectrum lighting at the level of some basking
lizards and turtles, they do benefit from a regular photo-period of 12 hours of light and 12
hours of darkness. A standard fluorescent bulb will suffice however there is some merit to

the idea of using low output full spectrum bulbs with these snakes. As mentioned above,
UV light is not mandatory, but it may have positive psychological and behavioural effects
on the animals over time.
Substrate and Furnishings:
The substrate used for green tree pythons should be one that promotes healthy humidity
levels, yet is resistant to mould and fungus. Commercially available reptile bark (orchid
bark) is a popular choice, as are coconut husk products. Cypress mulch is ideal, and is
highly recommended as a first choice if it is available to you.
Chondros are arboreal snakes that spend most of their time coiled among horizontal
branches. A variety of branches and sticks of varying diameter should be used to furnish
the enclosure. Perches should be arranged in such a way to offer the snakes multiple
basking options, both high and low, and both near to and far from the heat source.
The inclusion of live or plastic plants helps to maintain a natural setting for your snakes,
but additionally provides security for the animals and serves as natural places for water
droplets to collect after the terrarium has been misted.
Patches of sphagnum moss are highly recommended, as it will not only act to beautify the
enclosure, but will function like a sponge when it gets wet, and slowly release water during
the day, subsequently raising the humidity within the cage.
Water and Humidity:
Water should always be made available to green tree pythons via a large, sturdy water
dish. These pythons will typically drink from the water droplets that form on their coils and
perches after being sprayed. However, the addition of a water bowl ensures that the
animals always have access to water, and additionally, said bowl will aid in maintaining
adequate humidity levels.
In the wild, Chondros live in lush tropical forests, where rain is frequent and humidity levels
high. To reproduce this environment in the terrarium, regular misting of the entire contents
of the enclosure with room temperature water is necessary.
The watering schedule will vary based on the type of enclosure, ambient humidity where
you live, and the substrates used. Until you determine the regimen that works for your
specific set-up, consider a twice a day schedule and modify it as needed.
Enough water should be sprayed that the enclosure walls, substrate, perches, and the
snake itself have droplets on them. The cage contents should never become soggy, and if
that becomes the case, consider spraying less often. Optimally, the substrate should be
nearly dry before it is sprayed again.
The skin shedding process is a simple and effective way to gauge whether you have the
humidity levels properly adjusted. If your python sheds effortlessly, and the skin comes off
in a single piece, then you are doing well. However, if the snakes skin seems to be flaking
off in tiny pieces over the course of several days, you will need to increase humidity levels
with more frequent misting and/or a larger water dish.
John Gamesby