Morelia viridis, commonly known as the Green Tree Python, or as it is known in the herpetoculture hobby, chondro (due to its former classification in the genus Chondropython.) is a species of python found in New Guinea, islands in Indonesia, and Cape York Peninsula in Australia.
The Green Tree Python is characterized by a relatively slim body. The relatively long tail accounts for about 14% of the total length. The head is large and clearly defined from the neck. The snout is large and angular. The body is triangular in cross section with a visible spine. The species usually reaches a total length of 150-180 cm (4.9-5.9 ft), but large females may reach 200 cm (6.6 ft). The size also varies depending on the region of origin. The weight is highly dependent upon the nutritional status of the animal. Males can weigh about 1100-1400 g (2.4-3.1 lb), females up to 1,600 g (3.5 lb), although wild specimens are typically much lighter than this. Especially large specimens up to 2,200 g (4.9 lb) are invariably females, which like most snakes are slightly larger and heavier than males.
They are found in Indonesia (Misool, Salawati, Aru Islands, Schouten Islands, most of Western New Guinea), Florida U.S.A., Papua New Guinea (including nearby islands from sea level to 1,800 m elevation, Normanby Island and the d'Entrecasteaux Islands) and Australia (Queensland along the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula). The type locality given is "Aroe-eilanden" (Aru Islands, Indonesia).
Its main habitat is typically in or near rainforest, and is primarily arboreal, residing in trees, shrubs and bushes. Occasionally it is seen on the ground.
The largest threat to the species is habitat destruction due to logging of forests. However illicit poaching of wild animals to supply illegal wildlife smuggling results in the loss of many animals.
Primarily arboreal, these snakes have a particular way of resting in the branches of trees; they loop a coil or two over the branches in a saddle position and place their head in the middle. This trait is shared with the emerald tree boa, Corallus caninus, of South America. This habit, along with their appearance, has caused people to confuse the two species when seen outside their natural habitat.
The diet consists mostly of small mammals, such as rodents, and sometimes reptiles. This snake, like the emerald tree boa, was thought to eat birds; however, Switak conducted field work on this issue. In examining stomach contents of more than 1,000 animals, he did not find any evidence of avian prey. Prey is captured by holding onto a branch using the prehensile tail and striking out from an s-shaped position and constricting the prey. Wild specimens have also been observed and photographed wrapped around the base of small tree trunks, facing down in an ambush position, presumably waiting for ground mammals to prey upon.
M. viridis is oviparous, laying 1-25 viable eggs per clutch. Breeding has never been reported from the wild, however in captivity eggs are incubated and protected by the female. Hatchlings are lemon-yellow with broken stripes and spots of purple and brown, or golden or orange-red. For yellow individuals at Iron Range National Park, Australia, the color change occurred over 5-10 days when individuals were 58-60 cm (22.8-23.6 in) long, which corresponds to about a year old. Colour change for red juveniles has not been observed in the wild.
These snakes are often bred and kept in captivity, although they are usually considered an advanced species due to their specific care requirements; once these are met, they thrive in captivity. Wild-caught individuals often carry parasites and don't usually tame down, so have even further care requirements. The majority of captive-bred individuals, though, can be trained to accept handling. With the development of artificial incubation, this species became much more available in captivity. The most common method used was developed by Robert Worrell in the mid 1990s. It simply involved using a 50/50 ratio of vermiculite to water and just using a beverage cooler for an incubator. This, combined with the focus on embryo placement, allowed for a much higher hatch rate for this species in captivity. Later, Worrell's observation of ovulation allowed the average hobbyist to determine when oviposition would take place, as well as the outcome of the eggs. Green tree pythons lay their eggs roughly 40 days after ovulation, with the time extended up to a week when the animals are maintained in a cooler environment.
The caging for these animals is a bit more specific than the average python. As long as these requirements are met, the animal becomes very low maintenance. They require a higher relative humidity (60-80%) as well as a smaller fluctuation in temperatures (80-85F/26.5-29.5C) than most. Shiloh Hawkesworth wrote an article for Reptiles Magazine titled "Heat Seeker" "Heat Seeker" continuation going over these requirements. Among many who have kept this species, the green tree python has a reputation for being a furious reptile which will bite when provoked, but this is mainly limited to imported animals. Captive-bred green tree pythons are among the most gentle of all the python species.
A care sheet for this species can be found on the Reptiles Magazine website. This "care sheet" article was written by Rico Walder and Trooper Walsh.
- List of pythonid species and subspecies.
- Pythonidae by common name.
- Pythonidae by taxonomic synonyms.
5. Ron Kivit & Steven Wiseman (2005). The Green Tree Python and Emerald Tree Boa - Care, Breeding and Natural History. Kirschner & Seufer Verlag. ISBN 3-9808264-0-6.
- Schlegel, H. 1872. De Dierentuin van het Koninklijk Zoölogisch Genootschap Natura Artis Magistra te Amsterdam, Reptilia. 64 pp. (Python viridis, p. 54.)
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