The green tree python is a bright green nonvenomous snake with diamond-shaped heads and irregular scales. They may also have white or yellow vertebral stripes, while some of these snakes have yellow, green, or blue spots. Found in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea, eastern Indonesia, and the Cape York Peninsula of Australia, their coloration helps them to remain camouflaged within their environment: the bright green color helps them remain hidden among the leaves of tall trees in the rainforest.
Named for their vibrant green color (although they are generally born red or yellow then change color as they become adults), the green tree python is also known for its prehensile tail, which helps these snakes climb as well as assists with catching prey. In the wild, you might find a green tree python coiled up and hanging horizontally on branches. They will dangle their tails to lure prey, and then continue to hold on to the branch while they attack and devour their next meal. Better yet, they have heat-sensing pits on their mouth to allow them to sense when a warm-blooded creature is approaching.
As pets, these are shy snakes that aren't particularly high-maintenance (with the exception of the required humidity levels within their enclosure). Though vibrant and exotic, they will not tolerate being handled often, can be prone to biting when startled, and may not make as good a pet as some other snakes.
Common Name: Green Tree Python
Scientific Name: Morelia viridis
Adult Size: 4-6 feet long
Life Expectancy: 15-20+ years
Green Tree Python Behavior and Temperament
In the wild, the green tree python lives in tropical rainforests with lush vegetation and high humidity (as well as other forests and gardens) where they spend most of their time hiding in the trees. As a pet, these snakes are relatively easy to care for, but they are not a species that's going to want to be held and handled often. These are exotic display animals that are best for intermediate to advanced snake owners.
Housing the Green Tree Python
When having a reptile as a pet, it's important to provide a hiding place. Snakes like the green tree python prefer to have a place to take cover, although you won't want them to have a place where they could hide potentially permanently. The green tree python is not considered to be a particularly social species of snake, and therefore if given the opportunity they are likely to hide constantly and remain in one place—this could interfere with their ability to thermoregulate properly and potentially lead to illness.
In fact, their shy nature also means they often feel threatened and can be prone to biting. They can be socialized over time so they become more docile and receptive to handling on a regular basis.
The temperature in your green tree python's enclosure should be kept between about 86-88 degrees Fahrenheit. It's important to provide a range of temperatures for your pet snake; the cooler side of the cage should hover around 78 to 80 degrees, while at night the temperatures can drop to between 70 to 75 degrees. You'll want to avoid going below 70 degrees at any time.
Unlike many other pets, the good news about most snakes, including the green tree python, is that they don't require special lighting. While they don't require full-spectrum lighting, it will enable you to be able to truly see the brilliant colors of the green tree python.
The green tree python is a species that requires humidity. Once you have the appropriate-sized enclosure (which should also have the ability to retain humidity and provide adequate airflow), you have to be sure to keep both the temperatures and the humidity level within the correct range. The green tree python's enclosure should be kept humid (but not wet) in order to prevent both skin and respiratory issues.
You'll want to provide a basking spot with an over-the-cage heat lamp, ceramic heat emitter, or radiant heat panel. These should be controlled with a thermostat, and you should also consider investing in a hydrometer, a device that measures humidity, to ensure that the humidity levels in your green tree python’s enclosure range between 40 to 70 percent.
Most substrates will be suitable for green tree pythons. But while newspaper is the cheapest and probably easiest to obtain, many snake owners opt for a more natural substrate, such as coconut husk. It can hold moisture for several days and help ensure proper cleanliness and hygiene in your snake's enclosure.
Food and Water
Green tree pythons prefer to eat mostly small mammals and other reptiles; in the wild they are known to eat frogs, birds, lizards, bats, and other vertebrates, especially those found in trees. They will sometimes leave the trees and feed on ground-dwelling rodents, which is why when kept as pets they are often fed a diet that primarily consists of rats and mice.
As juveniles, these snakes are considered to be diurnal, which means they'll be more active and hunt their prey during the day. But as they become adults, the green tree python will become nocturnal and their hunting and other activity will primarily occur in the overnight hours.
Common Health Problems
As long as you properly care for your green tree python, you can expect it to live into its mid-teen years or even early 20s, especially while in human care. Though they are considered a bit more fragile than other popular pet snake species, such as boas, ball pythons, kingsnakes, or corn snakes, if their care requirements are met they generally live a long, healthy life.
Choosing your Green Tree Python
When purchasing a green tree python, be sure you're working with a breeder in order to avoid ending up with a snake with health issues such as parasites or other conditions. Keep in mind that these are definitely not a species that's meant for inexperienced keepers.