Hello snake keepers.
Let me introduce Morelia Viridis, the Green Tree Python. There are a lot of information to be found about this snake on the Internet. What I prefer is personal experience. I have had these snakes for a more then 5 years now and they are just astonishing. They are to be found in Australia, Papua New Guinea but the best known areas are definitely in Indonesia (for example the ARU islands). I would like to tell you how awesome these animals are and that you should not be scared to keep them. For many years the rumor was going the round that they are only a good fit for experts as many die without a reason. This is not really the truth. many died and die now-days too, but this considers wild caught animals only. They suffer from stress, dehydration during the transport, parasites and disease. I strongly advise to buy your animals from breeders and don't get seduced by cheaper wild caught specimens otherwise you can easily get disappointed and eventually introduce a disease or parasites to your collection.
Appearance and size
There are only a few snakes which can compete with the Green Tree Python in regard of its coloration and large variety. Each location differs somehow it color. For example the Aru are all green with white spots on the back, the Biak tend to be a combination of yellow and green, Sorong usually have a lot of blue on the back, Kofiau are even more yellow then the Biak and sometimes you can find also solid yellow specimens. There are many more and new combinations are appearing as the animals from different localities are being breed together to produce so called designer morphs. The interesting thing about this snake is definitely the immense color change they go through from a baby to and adult. when people see a baby Morelia Virdis the first time usually it is hard to believe it is a Green Tree Python as they are shiny yellow, brown or red with white spots. As they grow older they start to change slightly and the first change is visible approximately at an age of 1 year, this can differ from one animal to another. As you can see in one of the pictures below, it is normal to have animals in the same age but with totally different color stages. The spots the babies have are not the final spots they will have when adults, they tend to fade out and new ones appear. As a python species the Green Tree Python is rather a medium sizes animal maxing out at a size of 2m, it is common that the animals stay smaller at about 1,5m. the Body is strong with quite large scales. A significant mark of the Morelia are the big thermal pits which help the snakes to find their prey.
They are considered to be very aggressive and bitty. The truth is, many of them tend to bite when disturbed, but once you have them out of the enclosure they are really calm and stop the defensive behaviour. My animals are normally only keen to try to bite once, after they realize I'm not a treat in no way and definitely no food they are really placid. As a nocturnal animal (night active) they spend their days curled on a branch in the typical position and move rarely. During the night they are on the hunt and therefore you should try to make all necessary activities like cleaning during the day not to get mistaken for prey. MoreliaViridis are not aggressive to other members of their species so you can keep more then one animal in a tank, don't keep males together. Many keepers keep the genders and single specimens separated but I prefer to have the animals in couples.
The Green Tree Python is a frenzy eater and they are very easy to get started. Pinkie mice are accepted willingly and only some would need to be "motivated" a bit more with gently rubbing the food item to the mouth of the small snake. Adults eat mice and smaller rats. be careful as they have a tendency to obesity and overfeeding should be avoided. During the breeding season they usually stop eating.
Morelia Viridis love to climb like you can tell following their English name. Therefore a high terrarium should be provided with many branches to climb on. At least 2 branches should be in a horizontal position as these will be used as relax branches where the snakes will spend the days. I suggest to offer one near the heating source and one a bit away from it to give the animal the opportunity ti pick what it likes.For a couple, an enclosure of the size of 100cm x 100cm x 50cm is absolutely enough because even during the night they won't move too much. As they come from the rain forests a high humidity is to be provided. this you can ensure with daily spraying of the tank and a big water bowl. The temperature is also quite important with a hot spot of 30C and a lower night temperature of approximately 25C you should be fine.
Breeding and Husbandry
First you need to make sure to have a couple. This may sound easy but usually you wont be able to determine the gender until your animal is at least 1 year old as no responsible breeder will try to sex your snake when younger. The reason is simple. Sonding and popping as the standard sex determination methods are not possible to be used as the babies are very gentle and need to be handled so to avoid a possible fatal injury. After you have a couple you need to start the breeding season with cycling. This means to drop and increase the temperature and change up the spraying of the enclosure. This will simulate the monsoon and rain period which they experience in wild nature and is the breeding impulse for them. The copulation will take place during the night when the couple is curled together on a branch. If you are lucky you can experience this theatre of nature for multiple nights. After some matings the animals lose interest in each other. The female will continue to eat for a short time after mating and after approximately a month or two she will start to get obviously bigger. The clutch can have 10-25 eggs in it. These need to be incubated (I suggest a professional incubator) at an temperature of 30C and 80-90% humidity. The babies hatch after 49-58 days depending on the conditions you are incubating the eggs in. The babies can be kept together but you need to be careful when feeding so the young ones don't mistakenly attack each other instead of the offered food.
The Green Tree Python is definitely one of the most beautiful snakes I know and keep. They are not a beginner snake but I think everyone who has a responsible approach to this hobby can easily make it and keep a Morelia Viridis as pets. What you need to do is to follow the simple rules. Keep high humidity but don't have the enclosure too wet, provide sufficient temperature, don't overfeed and never buy wild caught specimens. The life style, appearance and elegance make this snake prefect display snake for big terrariums.