Green Tree Python (Morelia Viridis) Care Sheet

Green Tree Pythons are not only some of the most beautiful animals on the planet but also a very interesting pet. Caring for such an exotic animal can be very rewarding and never gets boring. So, here is what you should definitely know about this snake before getting one!

This care sheet is supposed to give you a brief overview of the requirements you must meet when caring for green tree pythons (Morelia Viridis). This snake is often also called the chondro because it was originally classified as Chondropython viridis.

Green Tree Pythons are certainly one of the most desired species in the pet trade, but there are also not the easiest to care for. Still, their overwhelming color, shape and behavior make them one of the most beautiful and interesting pet snakes in the world.

Remember that a care sheet for Green Tree Pythons cannot provide nearly enough knowledge required for caring for your own individual. It is just supposed to give you a brief summary on the species.

Now, lets get started!

Emerald Tree Boas (picture) are often confused with Green Tree Pythons because they look so similar! (Source: pixabay.com)

Size and age

Green Tree Pythons are a rather small species of pythons. Their size depends to some extend on their locality, but the average adult measures between 1.10m and 1.50m in length. It is usually about as thick as a human adult wrist.

They rarely reach over 1.80m, but only in exceptional cases. In captivity, they may live up to an impressive age of 20 years.


Habitat

The Green Tree Pythons inhabits the vast tropical jungles of New Guinea and Indonesia. It lives in the high canopies of the jungle, where the humidity is high.

In the mountains, there can be up to 3000mm of rain per year, with periodic rainfall in the afternoon and limited rainfall during the dry seasons. Its habitat is impressively diverse and beautiful. It is a classical exotic tropical rain forest.


Activity

Green Tree Pythons are mostly active at dawn and during the night. During the day, they rest in their iconic resting position, curled up on a branch.

Once dawn sets in, the pythons will get active and either forage, or rest in position with the neck curled in an S-shape ambush position. They often sit for hours like this waiting for prey to pass on the branch beneath them.

classic resting position of the green tree python (by Tim Launer)

Morelia viridis is generally not very active. They are classic ambush predators, waiting for their prey to pass and then strike with incredible power and speed. Sometimes however, the pythons will be actively searching for either prey, a better resting position or a mate.


Handling

Green Tree Pythons are often said to be very evil and difficult snakes to handle. This is of course not true at all. Green Tree Pythons, just like any other snake, can be handled calmly without having to worry about injury.

However, we should note that green tree pythons are certainly not a cuddly snake and can indeed be very defensive. This is especially true for some individuals from the Biak island locality.

Biak Chondro (Source: pixabay.com)

So, if you are looking for a first pet you can regularly handle, the chondro may not be your best option. Green Tree Pythons are sensitive to stress and should be left alone as much as possible. However, they are a great display animal you can observe and admire.

Now, as mentioned, they are still usually not difficult to handle. If they are treated with respect and patience on a regular basis, Morelia viridis can also be a very cooperative snake and will not strike at all.

But still, I recommend a basic level of experience with handling snakes before you get a green tree python to avoid unnecessary issues.


Humidity

Green Tree Pythons are very sensitive to their environment. The most critical point is definitely humidity. A reptile keeper should have some experience with cages, heating and humidity control before they get a chondro. This is because Morelia viridis tends to be not very hardy in captivity.

Now, I do not want keep anyone from taking on this challenge. It is certainly not impossible to keep your Green Tree Pythons happy and healthy. As always, just do your research and you will be fine.

Where the chondro comes from, the humidity usually remains above 70%. So, you should also strive to achieve this environment in your cage. It is important to not overdo it – avoid a constantly wet cage since that would encourage fungi and bacteria growth.

In my opinion, the best way to regulate humidity is to mist the cage in the morning and let it dry during the day. This simulates the periodic rainfall and drying of the pythons’ habitat. Spray until the glass of your cage is fogging, which is usually enough for the day.

Also, you should spray the animal directly once in a while. Most Green Tree Pythons love to drink the water droplets from their scales after a heavy rainfall period.

If you still feel insecure, get a humidity measuring device to control your cage humidity levels.

Many Green Tree Pythons preferably drink the water droplets from their scales, so you should also spray your animal directly! (source: pixabay.com)

Of course, things like steamers, nebulizers or atomizers are also an option. However, they need to be set to the correct interval of spraying to avoid a constantly wet cage.

You can continue reading about the different methods used to control humidity HERE.

A good substrate like coco fiber or live plants can also be a very good addition to your cage. It will store ssome of the water after you spray the cage and then gradually release it during the day.

If you want to know more about controling the humidity levels for your Green Tree Python, check out the page on “Morelia Viridis – Housing & Humidity”!


Temperature

Luckily, the temperature in the rain forest is always quite constant throughout the year and day.

So, a constant environemt of 30° Celsius during the day and 27° Celsius at night is just perfect. It is also always good to create a temperature gradient of 1-3° Celsius from one side of the cage to the opposite side. This will allow your chondro to choos its own temperature.

If you want to know more about setting up a temperature gradient and heating your terrarium, click HERE.


Cage requirements

Many people on the internet claim that 60 * 60 * 60 cm (length * depth * height) is an appropriate size for an adult GTP.

However, I believe that this is just because most commercially available terraria have this size.

Chondro resting on a nice branch (Source: pixabay.com)

Now, in my opinion, an adult Green Tree Python should have at least a 90 * 60 * 60 cm sized home! For larger females, 120 cm length is even more appropriate to make sure the animal has enough space to explore and hide. This should be fine for no more than 2 individuals living inside (Add 0.5m * 0.25m * 0.25m for every additional individual).

Since green tree pythons are arboreal, they do not necessarily need a hiding place on the ground. Instead, you should definitely have several layers of branches in all directions to provide enough room and opportunities for you python to climb, rest and investigate.

Also, always have a bowl of fresh water in your cage just in case. Most green tree pythons prefer to drink directly from the droplets of water that condense on their skin.

Before you buy a tank/cage, check for any cage requirement regulations in your country.


Cage maintenance

Fortunately, there won’t be very much to do here. I recommend spot cleaning your cage quickly every day This just means checking for snake waste or skin and removing it quickly.

That way, you only have to replace the entire bedding and clean the entire cage once every six or seven months.


Feeding

I recommend feeding you snake frozen-thawed mice once a week for juveniles and once every 10 – 14 days for adults. Choose the mouse/rat size according to the snake’s size; the snake should be visibly thicker after the meal but still manage swallow comfortably.

Keep in mind that Green Tree Pythons hunt at night, which is also the best time to feed them.

Typical ambush position, head facing downwards and alert posture. (source: pixabay.com)

If you want, you can of course feed live prey. Green Tree Pythons can be picky sometimes; some do not accept dead prey at all.

A simple trick is to quickly heat the prey up in hot water. This way, the snake will sense a body temeperature that makes dead prey seem alive.

If you cannot fool your python with this trick, you must offer live food. Only reach to methods like assist- or even force-feeding if you have a mentor who can teach you the skills to do that.


Please remember….

that a care sheet can never provide enough knowledge to care for this animal. Always do more background research and get enough trustworthy information on your desired species.

Before you get a Green Tree Python, you should read  a book from an expert on the topic!

I can highly recommend “More Complete Chondro” by Greg Maxwell. He is one of the poineers in the world of the Green Tree Python and one of the most respected chondro breeders of all time. His detailed book includes all there is to know from a theoretical standpoint, including things you only learn from years of experience.

You can find it on amazon.com!

If you are interested in my sources, click HERE!

As always, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly with your questions!

4 Replies to “Green Tree Python (Morelia Viridis) Care Sheet”

  1. While you mentioned that this care sheet is not exhaustive, it is certainly very detailed and well-written.

    My husband has been passively interested in getting a snake for a few years now, which somehow has me doing the research!

    Thanks to your sheet we will be steering clear of the Green Tree Python. Not only are we new to owning snakes and handling them, but we would prefer a more cuddly snake. So thank you for saving us potential issues down the road.

    They sure are pretty though…

    1. True, Green Tree Python, although very pretty, may not be the perfect choice for people who are new to the hobby.

      If you are interested in a more friendly and tolerant species, the best beginner options are, in my opinion, Ball Pythons and Corn Snakes.  

  2. Tim, what a lovely surprise finding an article about these colourful pythons.

    I remember many years ago, visiting the Melbourne Zoological Gardens (Zoo). I love snakes, so immediately made for the reptile house.

    One of the first things I saw was the home of these beautiful Green Tree Pythons. They looked like layers of lime green whipped icing as they curled in a bunch around the tree brances.

    When one moved all you could see was disjointed bits of green sliding through the mass! It was bemusing and my friend and I watched it for ages.

    I would like to revisit this zoo just to see them again.

    Great article.

    Ciao
    Helen

    1. Hey Helen

      How great to hear from someone who shares the same passion:) I agree, Green Tree Pythons have some of the most beautiful colours in the animal kingdom. I’m glad you liked my post! 

      Tim

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