Eyes on my green tree Python (Morelia Viridis)
Green tree Pythons are gorgeous animals. Look at that beauty !
Another kind of python ?
This is a python yes. If you have read my snake intro article, you may know that pythons are constrictors, non venomous snakes equipped with sensitive thermal sensors around their mouth. There is no risk for your life, but a bite from an adult will hurt for sure as green tree pythons have pretty big jaws and teeth !
So yep : green tree pythons are well ... pythons.
Do not confuse green tree pythons with green tree boas (Corallus caninus) which look like really the same to your not-trained eyes !
Green tree pythons are also called "Morelia Viridis", this is the official name. They live around Australia, in the New Guinea and islands area (exclusively).
This kind of pythons is owned by many snake keepers and well mastered, they are not something new. It is not hard to keep this animal as a pet. It declines several localities (or morphs) which will show different patterns and colors on their skins, the common factor being the big presence of the light green color.
Mine is a male, something like 4 years old, and is from the "Aru" locality, which shows a big green predominance on top of what small white spots. There is also presence of the yellow color (on the bottom) and some blue as well.
Every time I look at this snake, I'm fascinated by such a natural beauty. That just makes me dumb and watch it : what a pleasure to the eyes. How is that possible ? :-D
Fully arboreal species
The green tree python is a fully arboreal species : it climbs and winds around branches and obstacles : this is truly amazing to see and feel. It can move very fast around branches with an accurate agility.
This snake is, like all arboreal species, very agile : its body is thin, agile, fast, robust and strong at the same time : this snake absolutely needs an enclosure with some perches or branches to climb and rest. This python snake pretty never ever stays on the ground, but on his branch (whatever the height from the ground : it just needs to perche).
So you will need an enclosure with branches and perches, like mine just above.
Then, when you want to manipulate the snake, you will need to get it from his branch, which is a challenge. Well, now I'm fully experimented in such a task, but that is a challenge when you start, same for handling it into your hands : it is nervous, speedy and will always want to wind around "something", or bite you sometimes. Take real guard if you leave it alone in some room with no eyes to look after it (strongly discouraged).
What does it need ?
Like for every medium-sized snake, it is pretty easy to accommodate its needs.
It needs an enclosure of the right size with branches and/or strongly attached perches into it. After that, nothing really special compared to other snakes : some fresh water : a big bowl as he often swims and bathes into it.
Then some heat : I keep my adult at 27°C on day, and 24-25°C on night : these are the temperatures gaps it needs.
Cycles as 12h light (not too intense), 12h darkness.
Then some wet, well at least not too dry ambiant air : try to keep 50% relative humidity minimum - something pretty common. Too much humidity with absence of ventilation will lead to pathogens development and snake injuries (especially targeting lungs) which can quickly lead to death. Don't be too dry, but don't go too wet either.
And then : some calm. Snakes love quietness and don't like vibrations : put the enclosure in a calm environment and open your eyes in its direction ! Sooo damn beautiful animal.
A "cool" species ?
By "cool" I mean manageable in hands. And the answer is .... not that many : take care.
You always need to handle your snake by hands. Not very often, but to check its health, to help it shed or simply to appreciate it. Every time you handle it, is a +1 in experience it learns from human interaction.
This python species is definitely not recommended for beginners who ignore snakes. Morelia Viridis are nervous snakes, speedy/reactive, and can easily show defensive behaviors, aka : jump at you in a too-fast-to-follow movement and bite you. And bites will both hurt and bleed as those snakes are equipped strong long teeth. You want to avoid bites.
So, it is all the same with all snakes : if the species is native bred born, then its behavior depends on the one individual. And if the snake feels nervous and defensive, it is fully possible to turn its mind with experience and knowledge. Remember that every time you handle it, is a +1 in experience it learns from human interaction. Nervous specimen often don't stay nervous for all their life : they learn from your interaction with them.
As usual : There are no bad snakes, but snakes that deserve to be understood.
Mine is cool, I mean really cool : it shows no defensive behavior at all (assuming the keeper knows how to manage snakes, which I do) and is a real sweet heart.
But on an average, you must be warned that Morelia Viridis are not unmanageable snakes, but challenging snakes. Some individuals show really defensive and must always be taken out of defense mode before being fully safe while handling. Once again, this is not hard providing you know how to read the snake body language, and you are equipped with some tooling (I use snake hooks).
Like most pythons, the green tree Python rests/sleeps on daylight, and actively lives by night, including chasing/hunting : you won't want to open its tank by night, without tools and keeping yourself at a safe distance : it will jump at you easily, its a predator. So be prepared he jumps on you as soon as you open (by night at least) : this species is a ravenous predatory compared to other ones : it will not hesitate to hit you thinking you are a rat if it is in chasing mode. This is just a wildlife behavior all right ? You need to accept it, I myself really enjoy that.
Color as hiding mechanism : color change
If you watch how I keep it in the enclosure :
You'll notice there are no hiding spots at all. Well, because green tree pythons rely on their own color not to be detected by predators : they thus naturally don't need to hide to feel safe, but will feel nervous as soon as you show them that you spotted them : by touching them for example.
Pretty wildlife-ruled logical behavior isn't it ?
So at the opposite to - for example - ball pythons : Morelia Viridis don't need hiding dark spots to feel safe and in good condition.
When they come up : they are either yellow or red colored. This is because in the wild, small babies will likely stay on the ground for the beginning of their life, and the ground is full of leaves or twigs, so to stay hidden from predators, their original color is not green.
Then, as they mature, they climb more and more, higher and higher in trees, up to the top of the trees to be hit by sun : here, they need to stay stealth and thus they need to be green colored (predators often come from the air, that's why when you approach a Morelia Viridis, you do that from its bottom side, and not top side).
Then, at around 1 year old, babies (becoming adults) change body color, from their original yellow-or-red, they turn to main green.
Fascinating wildlife rules aren't they ?
This snake species is voracious ! Morelia Viridis feeds like dogs ! You could feed one every single day or even twice per day and the snake could take the meal ! (Never do that however).
This is so noteworthy when you first get such a specimen, but remember the general rule : an adult snake should be fed around once per month.
I feed mine every 3 weeks actually. Be really careful as those animals need to have a body of a precise size to stay able to climb and move how they are programmed to. If you feed too much, they will suffer from obesity and won't be able to progress like they do, something bad for their health.
Be really warned when you feed : they are predators and will jump at you ! Don't fear : this is a pretty normal wildlife behavior, simply take some tools (tweezers) and be sure there is a good distance between your hand, and the rat you feed the snake with.
If you enjoy snakes as pet, you have some experience with other species and don't fear a nervous style one : go for it.
Green tree pythons are beauties to watch and take pictures from.
Even if some particular individuals can be challenging to manipulate using free hands, it is always the same recipe to follow : Use tools if needed (hooks or gloves), be gentle, slow movements, show it you are not bad, make it feel he's safe and everything will be all right. Be prepared however to manipulate a speedy snake that "jumps" into your hands and can have some very intense speed push moments : don't let it fall on the ground. If you are lucky and very attentive, it is easy to calm it down and have it relaxed, slow and cute. I can put mine around my neck and pass on my face, with no danger at all.
Green tree pythons live for around 20 years, measure about 2m adult size, weight around >2Kg adult (can be 3kg) and cost around 500$ (young) to 1000$ (adult) per specimen.
As usual, get more infos and the full picture : health injuries and pathologies, country laws, veterinary (practicing in snakes and reptiles), reproduction if needed, your holidays and long away periods (water, excrement), power failure scenarios (temperature), house relocation and animal transport (temperature), relation of the animal with other people, food supplying, etc...