GREEN TREE PYTHON [morelia viridis]

GEOGRAPHY Rainforset mountain areas and lowlands of Papua New Guinea,Cape York peninsula Australia and a few neighboring islands.

CARE These are some nice animals!Green tree pythons can have extreme pattern and color variations.Some may be more yellow,others more blue.Some may have white spots some may have yellow or blue spots they really are variable.Adult size is about 4 or 4 1/2 feet however some specimens may get up to 6 feet in length.They are slender and adapted to arboreal life.Many are confused between emerald tree boas and green tree pythons however there is a really easy way to tell the difference.Emeralds have large head scales especialy on the nose and green trees have small granular like scales covering the entire head and nose except the tip of the snout.

ENCLOSURES Green trees are of course almost entirely arboreal and cages should reflect this.Tall cages with well placed branches and if you would prefer live or artificial plants are required.These snakes do not need very large enclosures a 2ft.x2ft.x2ft. would be adequate.However a 6 foot well planted enclosure can be awesome to look at and give you a sense of satisfaction when you look at them or show to your friends.Relative humidity should be about 75-80%.A water container with a low wattage heat pad underneath will supply enough humidity so you do not have to do a lot of maintanence spraying.Enclosures should easily facilitate the high humidity and if wood is used it needs to be heavily polyuerethaned or you can use liquid plastic the kind they use on disco floors.Many people simply use large plastic tubs or trash cans and thats great for breeding them however they look really nice and you may want to showcase them.The best way of keeping these animals is to keep humidity high but not letting the enclosure become soggy or wet.

ACCLIMATION Wild caught adults are far easier to acclimate to captivity than emerald tree boas.They do not usually have the regurgitation syndrome but need to be de parasitized accordingly with heavy emphasis on ridding bacteria.Worms should also be a top priorety since they may feed on birds in the wild and wild birds are very wormy,so they pass them on to the snake.To acclimate green trees smaller enclosures may be used.Relative humidity should be high 80%.The front of the enclosure may be covered to avoid unneccessary stress on the animal from seeing people walk in front of the enclosure.Make sure the animal is de parasitized and try to feed the animal at night with dead prey.From here on out you can use the techniques discussed with the emerald tree boas.Be carefull to watch the skin to make sure it does not blister up.Make sure to keep enclosures mold free as mold grows rapidly in high humidity.Substrate can be newspaper which does not look so hot in a "natural" vivarium or you can use cork bark or bark mulch.These are good because they look nice and will keep humidity high.Most green tree pythons that are raised from hatchlings can be tame and not mind handling.Keep in mind however this is not a snake that should be handled often.They are a look but dont touch species and really are not a good" pet " snake.There are other species far better for that purpose.Wild caught animals may be a little nippy well put it this way they will strike at anything that moves.This also seems to vary with individuals and locality.Temps should be in the high 70s low 80s with a basking site of about 90 degrees.Typically green trees may pick a branch they like and usually will spend the most time on it.Different widths of branches may be given to see which size the animal prefers.Branches with different widths and basking temps can be used if you can achieve it but it is not neccessary.One basking site and one branch may make a green tree quite happy.They some times have problems shedding especially the eye scales so humidity should be raised when shedding cycle starts spraying lightly may also help.Adults will usually feed well on mice or small rats and should be fed only every 10 days or so.They have a slow metabolism and do not need a lot of food.Imports will usually start feeding on smaller rats or mice however some may prefer chicks so try these if nothing else works.Imports may also to prefer drinking droplets of water off of the side of the enclosure or their coils rather than a water container.

BREEDING In the last few years green tree pythons have become very popular and breeding the python has become common place.Years ago many could not get animals to breed and if they did they had problems hatching the eggs.To breed green trees a light cycle is strongly suggested.They are a sluggish animal so you can use any little trick you can to get them to breed.The night time temps should be dropped to between 60 and 70 degrees with the warm up in the day time.Keep green trees singly thoughout the year and introduce them during breeding time for best results.Always be careful with males as they may combat and bite each other.Incidentally females may be mistaken for males if a male has been introduced and then removed and another male is introduced, biting may occur so be careful,males should never be kept together even when not in cooling.Females may be kept together but like chameleons they should have ample space to themselves because even they may bite each other.Frequent misting with water after the cool down may bring on mating.If you are having trouble mating green trees with standard python cycling try these tips.First lower the humidity to between 50 and 60% during cooling.And then jack the humidity up for the warm up with frequent sprayings.This may simulate the oncoming rainy season.Secong try placing the pairs together when the barometric pressure drops in your area.Many breeders have noted their green trees may only mate when a storm is headed their way.Try placing the freshly shed skin of another male into your male breeders enclosure this may stimulate a combat response.And lastly try different combos of males and females green tree females may be picky in choosing a particular mate and may like another male.You may have just missed the breeding as it may commonly occur at night.Males can be left with females for a few weeks as they will breed frequently over this peiod.If the female is ovulating and you notice remove the male.Males may not breed after the females ovulate.Compatible pairs are a green tree fanciers best friend! After copulation females will ovulate.Females should be given a basking site of about 95 degrees.After ovulation females will shed about 20-30 days later and after the shed agg laying follows in another 25 or 30 days.Which gives us a time from mating to egg laying of about 60 - 75 days.Females may not come to the ground and use a nest box but chose to drop them off of a branch.This may harm the eggs,and two nest boxes should be given one high in the enclosures with branches leading to it,and another on the floor.Two can be given and the female may choose.Green trees lay between 5 and 30 eggs averaging 12-18.Females may breed every year if a succesful regimine is employed.Green tree eggs seem to be more sensitive to wet conditions than alot of other python eggs.They should be incubated in vermiculite or the like at 88-90 degrees.They should not be allowed to become wet.A dam around the medium may help run off water from the eggs and circulate it through the air.Again check that they do not absorb to much water [get too large to fast] or have droplets of water resting on them.They will hatch between 50 and 60 days.

The following info on hatchlings was sent to me by Winslow Murdoch m.d. thanks winslow!

CARE OF BABIES / JUVENILES We recommend that before receipt of your Chondros, you set up a small aquarium habitat with a large water bowl on the bottom as part of the substrate. Newspaper, or cypress mulch are good additional substrates. House snakes individually. Set ups will need to be able to accept regular manual fine misting, or a misting system. Misting frequency varies depending on ambient humidity. High humidity cages need weekly misting, while drier ones need it daily, especially if the animal is pre-shed. The animals, however, always seem to enjoy drinking from droplets, so use your judgment. Keep in mind that they do need time to dry out thoroughly, otherwise they risk skin blister problems. Front opening cages are best for arboreal boids. Twin Oaks Livestock of Dickson, TN has nice small, medium, and large sized "Bread box" arboreal aquariums that fit standard screen tops, yet also open from the front, or side. Chondros rarely get rostral rub injuries on screens, but watch out. Neodesha, and Vision cages also come in arboreal models. Top heat, over part of the highest perch, works well to give a basking site (read more about perches in the neonate cage section below). The basking perch should neither be too close, nor be under too hot a basking element, otherwise the snake risks serious burns. This problem may go on, unrecognized for some time (even with ceramic heaters). Temperature gradients are provided by perches at various levels within the enclosure. Chondros prefer the highest perch if given a choice, so try to vary the temperature along this perch as well. You may enjoy putting Pathos plant clippings into the cage. Their cut ends should sit in the water, and the vine can be draped over the perches. Alternatively, plastic aquarium plants can achieve a similar purpose. These provide several secluded resting areas on the perches, between some leaves. You may also consider covering your cage windows in opaque paper for the first several weeks, until the animal acclimates. Placing the habitat partially on a heating element can help to maintain high humidity, and a stable temperature of between 78F- 86F (preferably with a gradient that achieves this goal). Natural/ full spectrum lighting is optional, but you might want to mount a fluorescent fixture in the top front of the cage. For adults, twenty gallon long tanks on their ends, and tubs/ trash cans can also suffice as caging. I still recommend a system where the animals are easily seen, and worked with. Iíve become a real Neodesha, Vision, and Twin Oaks convert over the last five or so years! Once in their pre-established and stable temperature regulated environment, Chondros should be left alone for five to seven days before any feeding, or contact of any kind is attempted. If, after several weeks, the animal is resisting attempts at feeding with the above system, I suggest returning juveniles to a shoe box like environment. This is outlined below and may help re-establish them in their new home.

NEONATE CAGE REQUIREMENTS Neonates should be housed individually, in small well-ventilated cages. Rubbermaid shoe boxes, with numerous small drilled vent holes around the upper side walls are fine. Perches, the diameter of their girth, are placed an inch or two above the floor. PVC, plastic, and well-cured polyurethane coated bamboo, or wooden dowels, are all easy to clean and will not grow mold. An easy way to set up the perch system in a Rubbermaid container is to set four perches up in a tick tack toe fashion. The ends of one set of parallel perches rest on the inner flange portion of the container, at about the perfect height. The other set of perches can then be fastened to these supported perpendicular perches with a plastic locking cable tie, enabling the entire unit to be anchored, and moved as one piece (Walder, R.). A ľ" of standing water works well as a substrate for the first week, preventing bad sheds, which are devastating to neonates. High humidity is always important before and during subsequent shedding cycles. Cleaning and fine misting (coarse sprays will panic baby Chondros) are done twice a week. Keep temperatures in the low 80s. A rack system, with dimmed heat cable under the back of the shoe boxes, is ideal for whole clutches. After the initial shed, the substrate can be changed to paper. A water bowel can be rotated to the back of the cage (over the heat), to boost the humidity as needed (pre-sheds, etc.), but maintenance humidity should not be kept too high as "scale-rot" may result (pers. obs.).

FEEDING NEONATES Note: The bulk of the information below will be just for your reading pleasure. It is critical, however, that you read this information carefully so that you will have the best chance for a problem free experience. These basic principals might come in handy for this, or other species in the future. After the first shed, regularly try (using long non-locking forceps) feeding warmed thawed pinkies, brained pinks, or tease feed with live just fuzzed mice. Pinkies; dipped in yolk, tipped with chick (quail and chicken) feathers, scented with skink, anole, gecko, frog (meat not skin), or dipped in the cavity of a fresh killed warm bird, are sometimes also needed. All animals should eventually eat, but in Trooper Walshís experience with almost 500 neonates, "it can be, and usually is, a lot of fuss to get all specimens of a given litter to take first meals. Rarely you may get a clutch where all, or most babies will eat at the first trial. I would say on average 2/3 eat unscented first meals after several hours of tedious work. The last 1/3 may take several dozen hours, over days or weeks, using an arsenal of tricks. Small skinks and lizards are their natural prey (based on field studies) and tricking them into accepting unnatural prey may take some convincing. In recent years I have had much better success in feeding trials by day than at night. Perhaps at night their senses are on full alert and hatchlings in particular tend to be very defensive. In the day when awakened, you have the option of choosing the senses you stimulate with the food (sight, touch, smell, and infrared). Specimens are less on guard." With dim background light, present the head of the warmed food ľ" in front of the babyís mouth, and slowly move it back and forth (Walder, R.). If the food is not quickly grabbed, "Touch tease" and tap the tail, neck, or snout of the perched snake with the pinkieís head. Try anchoring and elevating the perch, preventing it from spinning around when the baby strikes, and enabling the animal to hang by its prehensile tail unobstructed by the floor while constricting and eating. Eliciting a strike constrict response is the goal. If the baby has the prey by the head, and has it in a constriction coil, it will usually instinctively start the lock-on jaw walking motion. Move away slowly, and repeat with re-warmed food until the animal eats. The "ZEN of Chondro" keeps you from crushing the neonates pretty little head when it repeatedly drops the food. If the animal is acting afraid (crawling away or striking repeatedly without constricting) try again later. Keep at it! The sooner the babies eat, the better. When all else fails 8-12 weeks after the shed (or sooner if the baby looks wrinkled, not due to dehydration or a bad shed, was a small neonate, or acts at all weak), I would try appropriate sized live food (fuzzies, lizards (anole, gecko, or skink), or? Froglets). Leave the food overnight in a small deli cup with a perch for the baby snake. Rotate prey every few nights for a week or two. Mist the baby daily. More aggressive feeding techniques (that require manipulation of the neonates) are needed when babies fail all the above tactics and become weak from anorexia, or lose 30% of their hatchling weight (Walder, R., pers. comm.). This is best done by someone with experience in Chondro neonate care, not by a first time breeder. Always avoid pulling a baby less than one year old off its perch. This can easily cause traction spine injuries ("kinky-tail syndrome"), which may not be noticeable for many months. (Walsh, T., pers. comm.). If you have to move a baby (or for that matter an adult), use its perch, or lift a forward coil with a hook (coat hangers for babies) and touch their rear end with another object to "chase" them up onto the hook. Once on the perch or hook, Chondros go up, so you can usually influence their behavior by adjusting the angle of your prop. Babies are more prone than adults to leap from their hook so be careful they are being held over a counter to break their fall (pers. obs.). Tube feeding (Barker, D., pers. comm.) consists of coaxing the animal up into a clear plastic tube slightly larger in diameter than the babies head, and 2/3-3/4 their length (this technique is also perfect for working with adult animals that need probing, medicating, manual shedding or restraint of any kind, but be sure their girth fits too). Once almost all the way up, a pinkie is inserted with forceps down the top of the tube, teasing a bite. To crawl through, it will have to eat the meal. You may have to hold still for 45 minutes, TV or radio is a must! If this fails, try using a thawed adult mouse tail. Cut off the tail on a bias at itís base, and lubricate the cut end with a few drops of vegetable oil. Use the beveled base to pry the neonates mouth open, and gently insert the tail into the esophagus. The snake should instinctively begin eating after a few unsuccessful attempts at "throwing" the tail. It may be possible to slip a pinkie into the babies mouth as the tip of the tail is disappearing, or sew a pinkie to the tail tip with gut suture material. As a final resort, use a pinkie pump. Ideally this is done by two people. Use the aid of the plastic tube described, and lubricate the insertion tip of the pump with vegetable oil prior to attempting each forced feeding. Graduated sized mice, rats or chicks are all good choices for maintenance feeding older juveniles, and adults. Unlike Colubrids, live or fresh killed prey is preferred over the staple of frozen thawed warm food (pers. obs.). If the animal is finicky, try scenting with live rodents. Be careful with the feeding response! An 18-24 inch long locking hemostat instrument works well, for presenting food. I also suggest your free hand always hold a Plexiglas shield, much as one would do while feeding large pythons. A slot cut into the shield helps protect your feeding hand and helps support the tong (pers. obs.).

FEEDING JUVENILES AND ADULTS I feed juveniles, thin adults, and breeders every 7-10 days. Well-nourished adults are fed only every 10-14 days, and then only if acting hungry, coming up for food when the cage is opened (avoiding obesity). Cycling breeders may not feed for several months. Pre-shed animals also often refuse food and develop a puffy head. Do not worry, itís not mouth-rot cellulitis! Also, certain juveniles become difficult feeders after their color change, often between ten and eighteen months of age. This may last four to six months before they go back on feed (Web, H., Offermann, C., & Pers. Obs.). Sometimes, animals need to be woken from sleep on their perches, and at times made to feel a little defensive to elicit a feeding response. Always use long tongs to present their food, and make sure the food is warm (soak it a few seconds in hot tap water) at presentation. Consider leaving a mouse, or weanling rat in the cage overnight, this often works. Leave food for the feeder animal to keep it nutritionally sound, as well as some crumpled up newspaper to give the rodent nesting material. Feeder animals usually can't threaten the snake on the PVC perch unless they have a ramp to climb up to the perch. If they do jump up onto a non feeding perched snake, and start gnawing at it, the snakeís twitches will usually knock the rodent back to the floor. Chicks (chicken and quail), gerbils, or fresh killed prey may also get their interest, more so than frozen thawed. Another trick is to dip feeder rodents into hot chicken broth. Handling and sex determination of babies should be kept to a minimum for the first year (or until babies are about 24 inches long and well established, which may occur as early as six months in some aggressively fed hatchlings), avoiding traction spine injury (Walsh, T.). Trials using hatchling weights to determine sexes have been less than perfect. Care cards are invaluable to keep meticulous track of each animalís progress; parent information, hatchling weight (avg. 6-11 grams), defecation, feeding, and shedding records.


NOTES Of course the size of this python is great!I give a 1 -2 on handling simply because they are not an animal that should be held often.Housing is a 3 and not a 4 because of the detail to branches and humidity you will need to pay attention to.Although they do not require huge enclosures.Feeding is a 2-3 they really dont need too much food and most are good feeders but not spectacular feeders you know?Temperament is a 3 because most can be raised to not mind handling and wont bite much however imports may be a little fiesty!