Green Tree / Chondro Python Care Sheet
Common Name: Green Tree Python / Chondro Python
Scientific Name: Morelia viridis
Green Tree Pythons or "Chondros" (derived from the former genus name Chondropython) are arboreal in nature and contrary to what their name suggests, often exhibit a variety of colours other than just green.
Juvenile colours usually range from yellow to red or maroon and occasionally also dark brown to black but gradually change colour and patterns as they mature. Adults exhibit vibrant green, blue and occasionally yellow hues with diverse patterns and markings making them not only spectuacular display snakes but also amongst the most highly sought after morelia species.
Distribution: New Guinea and the surrounding Sorong, Biak, Merauke, and Aru islands as well as the northern parts of Australia
Habitat: Rainforests, bushes and shrubs.
Lifespan: 15 to 25 years in captivity
Temperament: Green Tree Pythons have developed a reputation as aggressive, ill-tempered snakes with a nasty bite. This however is largely unfair and untrue and is more an indication of bad handling than a reflection on their actual temperament. If handled slowly and with care to avoid inducing nervousness in the snake they usually exhibit calm behaviour and will tolerate handling for short periods.
Hatchlings range from 20 - 25cm in length
Adults average between 1.2m - 1.8m
It is widely believed that Green Tree Pythons are a difficult and fussy species to keep and maintain but one finds that this is largely untrue once an understanding of their fundamental needs is established.
Green Tree Pythons are non-venomous, arboreal predators that in their natural habitats will feed on a variety of vertebrate prey including rodents and birds as well as other reptiles. In captivity, chondros thrive on appropriately sized feeder mice and rats. Juveniles can be fed on a pinky mouse once a week and as they grow can progress to a hopper mouse once every 7 to 10 days. If babies do not eat readily you should tease feed them until they take the pinky. Adults can be fed one or two adult mice, or occasionally a small rat every one to two weeks. Green Tree Pythons lead a laregly sedentary lifestyle which may easily lead to weight gain and health problems if overfed, so please be mindful of this determining the size and frequency of meals.
A variety of cage options are suitable to these types of snakes but display cages are most suitable as they are likely to choose a favourite spot and stick to it, enabling the keeper to enjoy their beauty. It is advisable to bear in mind that these pythons originate from tropical climates and the selected enclosure should allow for the maintenance of heat and humidity levels whilst enabling ventilation. Traditional glass vivariums work well for these purposes.
Juveniles can be kept in much smaller cages than adults, these should ideally measure at least 30cm x 30cm x 30cm (height, width, depth) whilst adults can be kept in terrariums measuring 60cm x 60cm x 60cm or 90cm x 60cm x 60cm. Keep in mind that your python should ideally be able to reach the bottom of the cage from its highest perch.
The cage should ideally be fitted with perches such as branches and leaves which imitate the snakes natural habitat. Green tree pythons will usually coil up in one spot during the day but do become more active and make use of the cage space at night. Natural plants are optional and can help to increase humidity in the cage but always make sure that they are suitable for animal contact and will not be toxic to the snake.
A variety of substrates including sphagnum moss, astro turf, commercially available reptile bark etc. can be used.
As mentioned elsewhere on this site, most reptiles require a thermal gradient for optimal health and functioning. Green Tree Pythons require an ambient temperature of around 26°C and upwards but this should not exceed 32°C. Night time temperatures may drop a few degrees but should not drop under 21°C at any time.
Heat can be provided in a number of ways including heating pads, infrared heat bulbs, standard basking bulbs or ceramic heat emitters although all of these should be monitored closely at all times with 2 high quality thermometers to ensure optimal functioning and correct heating.
Humidity: 40-70% is optimal. This can be higher after misting etc. but the cage should not be allowed to be continually damp as this can cause dermal infections in the animal. This can be monitored with the help of a hygrometer.
Although Chondros don't need full-spectrum lighting to metabolize calcium, this type of lighting does bring out their vibrant colours. 12 hours of lighting each day is sufficient and will imitate their natural environment which allows for the same number of daylight hours all year round. Should you not wish to provide a full-spectrum / UV light, a standard fluorescent bulb will be adequate.
Green tree pythons females reach sexual maturity at around 3½ years of age, whilst males mature at about 2½ to 3 years old. As a guideline, the breeding weight for females should be:1000g+.
As with any breeding animals, both male and female should be in peak condition before any breeding is attempted. Thermo cycling is necessary and night time cage temperatures should be dropped gradually to the upper teens (but not lower than 15.5°C) for at least two to three weeks before introducing the male to the female. It is important to ensure that the usual daytime temperatures are maintained during this period. Green tree pythons will usually copulate at night and if left together will continue to do so on and off for up to six weeks.
Females should be given a dry nest box for laying eggs in. Clutch sizes can range from 10 to 30 eggs but generally averages at around 20, although variances do occur from one snake to another. Eggs should be incubated at temperatures between 30°C - 31°C and will usually hatch within 50 days. Once completely out of their eggs, babies should be transferred to individual tubs and kept well hydrated with frequent misting until they shed.