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GREEN TREE PYTHON Caresheet
Common Name: Green tree python
Scientific Name: Morelia veridis
Size: average 4-6 feet
Lifespan: 20+ years
You will find many ways on the internet, on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of caring for this species.
Green tree pythons may be referred to, by enthusiasts, as "chondros," which comes from their former genus name, Chondropython. Green trees start off life as yellow and red and gradually change to green. Some will keep their yellow juvenile colors. Captive bred green trees are readily available and are a better choice than wild caught. They are generally healthier and have not gone through the stress of being shipped across the globe.
The nice thing about green trees pythons is that they don't feel the need to hide. As the name suggests, they're arboreal. The enclosure should contain sturdy branches and/or perches set at different heights to provide an enriching environment for your python. The snake will rest coiled on its branch during the day and move about the cage at night. Babies can start out in cubes as small as 1 foot, like Exo terras 12" x 12" x 12". As adults, they will need a enclosure at least 24" x 18" x 24" or larger. They don't require tall cages. A 2 foot high enclosure will work fine, but it should be 2 or 3 feet wide because in the wild, they like to move horizontally through the trees.
You can use many types of bedding for your enclosure. The ones that work best are Zoo Med repti bark, Zilla jungle mix, Zoo Med eco earth and Zoo Med forest floor. Spot clean the bedding whenever they defecate. You should only need to clean the whole thing out about once a month. Disinfect the enclosure and change the bedding at that time. Zoo Meds wipe out or vinegar and water both work good for cage cleaning.
LIGHTING AND HEAT
Green trees originate from the rainforest, and they need it fairly humid. Like all reptiles, they are dependent on external thermoregulation to control their body temperature. This essentially means you need to provide a hot and a cool side to your enclosure. All the heat elements should be on one side and the other will then be the cool side. This way your green tree can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs.
The hot side basking spot should be at 86-88 degrees. The cool side can be between 78-80 degrees. At night, it can drop down to 72 ambient temperature. The basking light should be housed in a good quality light dome like Exo Terra and Flukers that has a ceramic housing to tolerate high heat and an on/off switch.
Use a good quality temperature gauge too, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer. Don't guess at it. You can also use a rheostat and/or timers to control your heat source. We do not recommend the use of hot rocks. They have a tendency to heat unevenly over too small an area and can cause serious burns.
Green tree pythons have a tendency to get dehydrated, but the environment should not be constantly wet. Keep a non-porous water bowl in with your snakes and make sure it always has clean water. Exo Terras water bowls or Flukers water bowls are good decorative choices or a good ceramic crock dish. Scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up. If you maintain humidity levels of 40-70%, your green tree python will be able to shed properly. Hand misters are usually sufficient, but if you don't want to hand mist, an automatic mister like the Exo Terra monsoon or the Reptile fogger are nice options.
Do not handle your green tree for several hours before you are going to feed it. They are generally not picky eaters and will usually take frozen thawed or live mice/rats. Be careful not overfeed your python. They are naturally slender snakes.
Hatchlings to 2 years
1 rodent of appropriate size once a week. This means the girth of the rodent should not exceed the girth of the snake (at it's biggest point, not his neck size). You do not want to feed your green tree to large a meal. They sometimes can have problems with regurgitating meals if given food that is to large (or too often). Do not handle your snake for at least 24 hours after it has eaten.
You can cut back to 1 rodent every 2 weeks if you want. If you do this make sure it is a decent size meal, don't skimp. Another option is to continue on the once a week regime with a slightly smaller meal than if you are feeding every two weeks.
Snakes in general tend not to eat when they are in shed. Just wait to feed until your python sheds.
Babies usually will eat through the winter as long as they are warm enough. Some adults however, will go off food during this time. If your green tree wants to skip some meals in winter, just keep an eye on the snake's overall condition and body weight. Typically with a healthy green tree python, this is nothing to worry about. If your snake is healthy and your husbandry and temperatures and good, then offer your python food every two weeks or so until it starts eating again.
Green tree pythons have gotten a bad rap over the years. They have a reputation of being aggressive. The best thing to do if you want to handle a your snake is to have a removable perch. Then you can remove the animal from its enclosure without disturbing it from its resting place. If you then want to hold your snake, approach it from below, which is far less threatening than from above. Try not to pull the snake off of its perch. Gently lift the snake's coils and offer your arm as another perch. Most green trees will tolerate limited handling. Some more than others. The Biak locality is known to be more temperamental.
The handling aside, green trees make wonderful display animals.