Green Tree Python Facts
Scientific name: Morelia viridis
Size: 4 – 6ft
Lifespan: Approx 20 years
Wild Population: 5,000+
Primary Colour: Green
Habitat: Indonesia, Australia, Papua New Guinea
Difficulty of Keeping: Very Challenging, Ideal For Experience Keepers
Optimum environment Temperature: 88°F hotspot with ambient temp of 80°F
What do they eat? Mice, Small Rats, birds & other rodents.
Purpose: Green tree pythons spend 90% of their life in trees and as they age go further up, their colour mimics the leaf colour change.
Eggs or Live birth: Egg baring snake.
Venomous: None venomous/ None poisonous
Are they kept in captivity? Most green tree pythons are kept as display snakes, rarely are they tolerant of handling.
Ease of keeping as a pet: Difficulty due to requirements & tend to not tolerate handling well.
Cost: Ranges between £50 – £3,000+ dependant on morph (colour)
So, you are thinking a green tree python may be the right snake for you?
They are in my opinion one of the most beautiful snakes on the planet, and the fact we can keep them in captivity is awesome.
Their size is in the medium scale, also not a very heavy bodied snake, so far, the green tree seems like the perfect snake for every reptile enthusiast, right?
Well there are a few things you may want to consider about this lovely reptile before running out and getting your setup ready.
Handling, yes this is going to be tricky if you are not well experience in handling difficult snakes. The vast majority of green tree pythons do not welcome the idea of handling from the off. (We have a dedicated section on handling a GTP below)
Some keepers just have GTP’s as display snakes, meaning they do not handle them, just clean, feed and care for the animal.
Second to this is their husbandry requirements, they must have a certain level of humidity to stay health and thrive in captivity. See below to find a comprehensive guide on husbandry.
What you will need to set up a green tree python
- Glass vivarium (reasons Explained below)
- Thermostat/ Thermometer/ Hydrometer
- A perching branch
- Water dish
- Heat bulb
- Bedding/ Substrate
- Vivarium lock
- Food (Frozen Mice/ Rats)
There are plenty of great starter kits by Exo-Terra which contain 90% of the items you will need to get you started, ensure you get the kit that is suitable for a green tree python.
Glass is slightly more expensive, though the cage is going to need spraying daily, therefore a wooden vivarium will start rotting in time.
It is also easier to clean a glass terrarium and find any dirty or potential mite infestations.
Choosing the correct size can be a real pain for new keepers but keep it simple with this formula
Length of Vivarium + Depth of Vivarium = the total length of the snake.
It is always good practise to go slightly large than this as it will give the snake a longer time to grow in the vivarium and avoid changing every 3 – 6 months when young.
Another benefit of have a glass cage is most are already fitted with a pre-installed lock on the front, so there is one less thing to worry about.
Finally add a horizontal perch for the snake that is thick enough for them to rest more than 50% of their body weight on.
They are an arboreal snake and do require this fitting to the cage as 90% of a green tree pythons’ life is spend within the tree branches.
Thermostat/ Heat Bulb/ Heat Guard
Your next item will be getting a high-quality thermostat, this will protect your green tree python burning itself. They often do this as they are an arboreal snake and therefore closer to the bulb.
A Dimming thermostat is perfect for the job, we use an Evo as this also has the option to set day and night temps for the enclosure which is required when keeping a green tree python.
The second measure of protection will be a bulb guard, this will stop the snake from having direct contact with the heat source and burning themselves.
Note – The most common reason for a snake to go to a veterinary is due to burns from unprotected heat sources!
Now, finally need to choose what bulb is going to be fitted into the cage, we find that an infra-red bulb does just fine, second to this is how fantastic the view of your snake is in the evening time with the red backlight.
2 x Thermometers – Place one on each side of the vivarium, one for monitoring the cooler side and one for the basking side.
1 x Hydrometer – Place this in the centre of the cage as this will give the most accurate results of the humidity level.
These can be found on amazon for a very cheap price, most are accurate today and do the same job.
Now you have all the equipment to setup the enclosure, let’s get started with humidity.
You should aim to keep the vivarium never lower than 40% and 70% being the perfect target.
I find that spraying the cage first thing in the morning and checking again in the evening works just fine. Spraying 4 – 8 times, do not soak the cage as this will encourage mould growth.
If after spraying the cage it spikes up to 90%+ do not worry as it will gradually fall throughout the day.
Now for the temperatures.
Ambient Temp: 75 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit
Basking spot: up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit
Ambient Temp: 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit (not going below 70)
Basking spot: up to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
Set these up on your thermostat and place the temperature probe on the hot side of the enclosure and you will be good to go.
Substrate & Bedding
- Cypress Mulch – This is a great bedding that holds moisture, therefore helping you maintain the humidity levels in the cage for a long period of time.
It is easy to spot clean and give the environment a nice visual appeal.
It is cheap and can be found at almost any reptile shop or can be purchased online.
- Coconut Husk – Less popular but if you are looking for an alternative to the cypress mulch, this is just as good.
Has all the same qualities of the cypress but is slightly more costly and does not have much or any added benefit of having.
Green Tree Python Food
Mice are perfect and suitable for hatchlings/ sub-adult snakes, as they grow you may find that small and possibly medium rats could be better suited.
So how do you know what to feed right now?
We have another formula just for you, the widest girth of the snake’s body = the size of the prey item being fed.
It is really that simple, don’t worry if the size of the rodent is a little big or small as in the wild, green tree pythons don’t have time to assess what they are going to eat.
Frozen food is better feed to your pet snakes, this protects the welfare of the prey item and damage to the snake.
Yes, there are a lot of cases where a snake has not eaten the mouse/rat and the rodent has attacked the snake.
Do Green tree Pythons Have Teeth?
Yes, and plenty of them. Their teeth recline towards the back of the mouth to stop prey from escaping their grasp.
It will not tickle, nor will it be as bad as you are currently thinking either.
Most snake bites are as quick as an eye can blink, often letting go before you can react, if this is the case the puncture marks are barely visible due to how thin the teeth are.
Handling A Green Tree Python
So, you have read their tolerance of handling can be quite challenging, we have created this guide to give you the best chances of calming your pet green tree python down.
This isn’t going to inspire confidence but if you are not willing take an occasional nip from a green tree, this is going to be near impossible.
The process will be much easier and increase chances of success when you start with a hatchling or sub-adult snake.
First, understanding the mentality of the snake before you start will help you understand why this is tricky, they are backed into a corner with no escape, effectively forcing a react positive or negative.
The advantages you have is the snake is more than like going to be on a perch which is what we are going to use to start.
Open the cage up, you will notice the eyes move, this is because of the temperature change when the cooler air enters the vivarium.
With a consistent speed go in and lift the perch out of the cage slowly and watch the snake’s reaction, most never react the way you think.
If you are not comfortable going in the cage, try wearing a glove will give you the confidence to start.
Holding the branch outside the cage will allow your snake to climb onto your arm if they choose (do not let them at your neck or face).
Repeat this over a period of weeks 2-3 times, ideally 2 as this will give time for the animal to de-stress between handling sessions.
Try this and you will see yours and your green tree python’s confidence grow, you may have some setbacks but keep at it, consistency is key here.
Green Tree Python Morphs
Biak: Green body with asymmetrical patches of yellow. The shade of green can largely vary.
Aru: Bright green body colour with blue blotches. white scales which may appear in clusters. Some have a blue line surrounding the belly.
Jayapura: Blue-green body colour with blue striping along the back. yellow or white scales. Black-tipped tail.
Sorong: Medium shade green body. Blue dorsal line and triangles either side of the line. Black-tipped tail.
Manokwari: Light green primarily. Bright blue dorsal markings which vary from snake to snake. few single white scales. blue & Black tail.