Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Green Tree Python

The Green Tree Python is an utmost stunning species, popular in reptile keepers of late. Let us have a look at the few details of this nocturnal and arboreal snake…
Green Tree Python

Green Tree Pythons (Morelia viridis) are nocturnal (active at night) and arboreal (tree dwelling), a real gem of the rainforest. This utmost stunning species of snake is very popular among reptile hobbyists. As the name suggests, it is predominantly in green color. Although some snakes may be yellow or blue with flecks of black, white and yellow color. Babies are red or yellow with black and white flecks.

There geographical location range from New Guinea, Papua, Iran, Java and reaching as far as the Cape York Peninsula of Australia. With the progress of reptile industry, keeping of this snake is becoming more popular. Somewhat due to skin trade, folk medicine and hunting for food.

Green Tree Python is an arboreal snake with developed prehensile (grasping) tail which helps in movement amongst the branches. The prehensile tail, tight coil and color of this snake are adaptations which help for life in the treetops. They spend most of the time coiled around branches with head in middle of the coil. This is its normal resting position.

These snakes have thermo-sensory pits along their lips which helps them to notice transformation in temperature. For example, if a warm blooded animal reaches within the range the python can notice the change in the temperature and same if a cold blooded animal reaches within the range. Evidences show that they sleep during the day and ground forage at night.

The Green Tree Python resembles a lot with a South American emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus). They are found in same ecological environment in their respective countries. Only thing that distinguishes the two is that the tree boas have elongated snout, bigger heads and the appearance of the head is flatter.

The python has a more compact and sculpted head. Unlike the broken line vertebral stripe of the python, the boa has ladder like vertebral markings. This could be an example of convergence between two different species in similar habitats, but remote. Distinctively it is considered to be relatives of amethystine python.

Green Tree Python is carnivorous in food habits as are other snakes. In wild they mostly feed on warm blooded animals like birds, lizards and small rodents (rabbits, mice), but in captivity are offered baby chicks and small rats. It is recommended that the item of food should not be larger than the girth of the snake. The girth denotes the widest part of the snake, that is, the middle part of the body.

Hatchling Green Tree Python should be given pinky mice. They should be fed with appropriate size of one or two food items once a week. As they grow their food size should increase but not the quantity. As an adult, they should be offered larger rat or mouse, but their food intake can be gradually decreased to once every two or three weeks.

The female Green Tree Python breeds once a year and is oviparous, or egg-laying. The breeding season is August to December and the eggs are laid in late November to February. The female needs a nesting box for laying eggs, for this she uses either the hole in a tree or amongst tree roots on the ground.

The clutch size is between15-20 eggs, and the leathery-shelled eggs are incubated for about 39 to 65 days, depending on the temperature. The female python coils around the eggs and shivers to raise the temperature of the eggs as well as her body. Newly hatched pythons are typically lemon yellow, but sometimes are brick-red or blue. Hatchlings do not develop the adult green coloring for six to eight months.

While keeping this snake as a pet, you should construct the vivarium with more natural surroundings. This is aesthetically pleasing as well as it adds to the general condition of the snake. If the snake likes its habitat, it will show better feeding response and grows quicker.

A vivarium of 90cm length x 60cm width x 60com height is ample for an adult Green Tree Python. A large housing with natural products and branches stops the snake from becoming overweight and lethargic, other to it, enhances the quality life of the reptile. The resistance power against any viral infections is more developed and helps encounter any late life problems.

The structure of the enclosure should be such that it could easily obtain an appropriate humidity and temperature gradients. Nowadays, this snake has become a prized possession for reptile lovers and so specialist brand vivarium, especially designed for keeping such reptiles are available in the market. Mostly woods are coated with melamine while making the enclosure, which covers all sides except the front glass sliding door. A 30cm cubed enclosure is a good size for juveniles, one can also use aquarium. But note of caution is that never use original aquarium lid, instead replace it with specialist (cork) lid.

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