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Green tree python
- Morelia viridis

The Green tree python has two different poses, depending on whether you are resting or hunting. In the resting position, the body of the snake coils and hangs from a horizontal branch or vine.
Green tree python
Morelia viridis, berlin aquarium (Zoological Garden) – Micha L. giant, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

Content

Origin / Distribution

The Green tree python (Morelia viridis) found throughout New Guinea and surrounding islands, with the exception of the Bismarck Archipelago. They are also found on the Cape York Peninsula of Queensland., Australia. The juvenile yellow morph of Morelia viridis is found throughout this range, while the juvenile red morph is only found in parts of New Guinea.

Characteristics / Appearance

The Green tree python reaches an average length of 1,5 m, being the largest recorded specimen of 2,2 metres in length. The scales on the head are irregular and small, and its heat-sensing labial pits are found only within the scales on the upper lip.. His tail is prehensile, what helps them climb. The Green tree python does not appear to show sexual dimorphism in adulthood; However, at shorter lengths juvenile females have broader and longer heads compared to similarly sized males.

when she is an adult, the Green tree python displays a bright green color over most of its body. On the dorsal surface there is a distinctive ridge of scales that is usually white to yellow in color and forms a broken or continuous line across the body.. in the ventral part, scales are usually yellow. But, some individuals may have duller yellow to white ventral scales and have a scattered blue tint on dorsal surface scales.

The Green tree python juvenile can be bright yellow or brick red. along the dorsal surface, show a series of white spots with black or brown borders. These spots may be symmetrical or randomly placed on both sides of the body.. In both color ways, a white stripe bordered with black runs from the nostril, passing through the eye, to the back of the head. The distributions of these two color morphs appear to be different, although it is not uncommon for both color morphs to be in the same clutch in captive situations. In the wild, only the yellow morph has been recorded in Australia. Although little studied, the red morph appears to be restricted to Biak Island and Baliem Valley in Papua (Indonesian) and in the Sepik Basin in Papua New Guinea. In some populations of Morelia viridis, adults may not completely change to green and retain some of their juvenile yellow coloration.

Habitat

The Green tree python it is a tropical rainforest species that mainly inhabits the lowland and montane lowland rainforest habitat, between 0 and 2000 m. It can also be found in secondary forests and regrowth areas. When they are young, the Green tree python limited to hollows in treetops or forest edges, where light can easily reach the ground. when they are adults, they are usually found in humid closed canopy forests.

Behavior

Green tree python
Morelia viridis – green python – loury cedric – Cedricguppy, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Morelia viridis it is the most arboreal python species, although it can be found on the ground occasionally. when they are adults, they are nocturnal and hunt mainly at night, when larger nocturnal prey are also active. Before ontogenetic color change, the Green tree python it is diurnal, coinciding with smaller prey that are active during the day.

The Green tree python has two different poses, depending on whether you are resting or hunting. In the resting position, the body of the snake coils and hangs from a horizontal branch or vine. This is how the animal is usually shown in photographs. When resting, green tree pythons often take refuge in tree hollows or epiphytic vegetation. In a hunting stance, the anterior end of the body extends from the ramus and folds like an accordion, ready to hit the ground or a lower branch, while the rear end wraps tightly around its perch. The Green tree python it usually changes between these postures only during twilight or dawn so as not to give away its location.

Activity rates are different between the sexes. Females are more likely to change position from one day to the next than males.. They are also more active and travel further in the month of February.. On the other hand, males are most active in January and March. But, from about April to the beginning of the following breeding season in October, both sexes are sedentary and inactive. When moving, the distances traveled by adult snakes are the same as those traveled by juveniles, regardless of its comparatively smaller size.

Developing

The Green tree python measure about 30,5 cm when hatched. In this phase, are bright yellow or brick red. They must undergo an ontogenetic color change to acquire their adult green coloration. This usually occurs between six months and one year of age., but it does not coincide with sexual maturity, as one would expect. On the other hand, at this age, the juvenile python will have between 53 and 59 cm in length and is large enough to change its foraging behavior and habitat. Each color stage appears to provide adequate camouflage to its immediate habitat.. when it is a young snake, red or yellow color blends best in gaps or forest edges, where smaller animals reside. The adult green coloration is better integrated into the closed canopy of the forest, where the largest prey live. The change is not usually associated with a molting event and can occur as quickly as overnight or take up to several months.. The red guys from Morelia viridis take longer to undergo this change, since they first lighten until they reach a yellow color, in several spots at once, and later change to their adult green color.

Reproduction

Breeding in the wild has never been reported. Morelia viridis and the mating system is unknown.

Most of the available information on breeding has been published from hobbyists of the captive pet trade., although some speculation can be made from on-site scientific research. The lack of sexual dimorphism and the presence of an equal sex ratio in the Green tree python suggests that males do not physically compete in male-male combat to mate with females. In its place, a male's ability to obtain a mate may be determined primarily by how well they can search for a female. Apparently, this is the reason why males do not maintain stable home ranges. Males seem to stop feeding when looking for a mate.. Once the male has found a sexually mature female, he will stimulate her with his cloacal spurs (vestigial digits) to make her receptive to mating.

The Green tree python has a highly seasonal breeding cycle; However, few young are found in a year, suggesting that these pythons do not breed every year. The actual mating season in the wild is not known., although in captivity it can vary widely from August to January and tends to be stimulated by the onset of low pressure fronts and storms. like all pythons, the Morelia viridis is oviparous. In the wild, females lay their clutches in October and then brood for about 50 days, but this can vary from 39 to 60 days. Hatching takes place in November, which corresponds to the beginning of the wet season in the Australian region. At the time of hatching, the Green tree python measures approximately 30,5 cm in length and can be brick red or bright yellow. Reaching sexual maturity can take several years and may be long after they have changed to their adult green coloration.. In males, sexual maturity occurs after 2,4 years and in females, after 3,6 years.

Food

Like the rest of the snake species, the Morelia viridis is exclusively carnivorous. They are obligate ambush predators that feed on small reptiles., invertebrates, mammals and birds throughout their lives. There is a clear change in their eating habits that coincides with their color change from red or yellow to their adult green coloration. Once they hatch, their main prey are Carlia longipes and diurnal invertebrates.

In captivity, However, hatchlings are known to cannibalize their nestmates. The Green tree python juvenile feed mainly on small animals, like lizards. As they grow, their mouths become larger and they are capable of ingesting larger vertebrate prey. in adulthood, the Green tree python feeds mainly on mammals and birds. These may include, the main prey species of the Iron Range populations of Cape York Peninsula (Australia) are the rodents Rattus leucopus and Melomys capensis. Since they are ambush predators, the Green tree python does not move often and can use the same ambush spot until 14 days, waiting for actively feeding prey to come within reach. The tip of the tail has been observed to attract small animals, especially in the young. Although the ambush feeding strategy does not frequently produce prey, the Green tree python has an efficient digestive system and does not need to feed frequently.

Life expectancy

Information on actual ages in the wild is limited for the Morelia viridis. But, a population in the Iron Range, on Cape York Peninsula, Australia, had an average age of 3,4 years. It is anticipated that these pythons could live at least 15 years, with a maximum age of 19. The Green tree python in captivity has lived only a little longer, with a record age of 20 years.

Threats to the species

The situation of the Morelia viridis it is indeterminate, as it is not listed on the IUCN Red List or CITES. But, populations may be vulnerable to capture for the captive pet trade. Most of the pet trade for the United States and Europe is sourced from Irian Jaya populations, although recently it has been possible to breed individuals in captivity. In Australia, It is illegal to catch the Green tree python or import individuals originating in New Guinea. Apart from the pet trade, these pythons are also vulnerable to habitat degradation due to logging and slash-and-burn agriculture. However, until their number cannot be accurately counted, it may be impossible to determine the status of this species in the wild.

The "Green tree python" in captivity

Video AquaTerrarium "Green tree python"

For terraristas it is very important to know that in tropical jungle areas there is no change in weather between seasons. This means that the Morelia viridis needs the same climate in the terrarium throughout the year. Keep in mind that the humidity in the jungle areas is very high and is between 75 and the 85% during the day. Next, rises to values ​​between 95 and the 100% At night. During the day, the temperature fluctuates between 27 and 32 degrees. And at night go down to 22-25 degrees.

The terrarium

Due to its arboreal lifestyle, to the Green tree python he should be offered a spacious terrarium. Although they spend a very compact time in their resting position during the day, morelias are very active at night.

Some professional journal authors advocate a minimum size of 0,9 m x 0,6 m x 0,6 m, as well as for an ideal size of 1,2 m x 0,6 m x 0,75 m. These sizes are great for creating a temperature gradient and keeping moisture in.. Large breeders trust these sizes.

Substrate

As a substrate for Green tree python uses coconut bricks and pressed humus, that dissolved in hot water form a very pleasant and moisturizing substrate.
The substrate is lightly sprayed 1 or 2 times a day with a pressure sprayer to ensure increased humidity in the terrarium.

Decor

As the Green tree python Lives in the trees, offered at least 2-3 horizontal branches. It is best to place the different branches (various types of wood are suitable for this) at different heights so that the snake can freely choose its preferred area. The lying branches of our terrariums can be mounted in such a way that the branch can be freely removed from its anchor if it needs to be replaced..

In addition to LED lighting (under cabinet light fixture), real plants like ivy (Epipremnum aureum) and Dieffenbachia They can also be part of the terrarium furniture. These grow excellently in the light spectrum and are also wonderfully suited to maintaining the microclimate.. The temperature and humidity in the terrarium of the Morelia Virids do not negatively influence plant growth, but rather the opposite: plants even thrive so well on this spectrum that they have to be shortened 1-2 times a year.

Temperature

It is a good rule of thumb to use 50W heat panels that are controlled by a thermostat. Under the thermal panel we have a temperature of 31°C and in the coldest corner a temperature of 26°C. At night we leave the temperature under the thermal panel. At night, let the temperature under the thermal panel drop to 26°C.

Air exchange is sometimes the most important factor, but unfortunately it is also usually the one that is most neglected. There is nothing worse than stagnant air and waterlogging in the terrariums of tree snakes like the Morelia Viridis.

When buying or building the terrarium, it is essential to ensure that there are sufficient ventilation zones to guarantee the exchange of used and fresh air. in addition, terrarium ventilation zones should not be too close to a wall, as this also hinders the constant exchange of air.
It also, the substrate of the terrarium must never be wet, but only wet, so it can dry again during the day.

We keep the humidity high by spraying warm water in the terrarium once a day by hand.. with plastic terrariums, the humidity stays very high. In the case of glass terrariums it may be necessary to spray twice.

Diet

Diet consists mainly of small mammals and lizards. But, birds also eat them with pleasure. Young animals also eat insects, among other things.

It is important to know that animals drink from their own body. That is why it is necessary to spray them regularly. However, there should always be a bowl of water in the terrarium.

Buy one "Green tree python"

The price of a "Green tree python" at the exotic animal market, can oscillate between 400 – 800 EUR.

Videos "Green tree python"

Alternative names:

    1. Green tree python (English).
    2. Python vert, Python arboricole vert australien, Python arboricole vert ou Serpent Émeraude (French).
    3. Grüner Baumpython (German).
    4. Pitão-verde-arborícola (Portuguese).
    5. "Pitón arborícola verde" (español).
Sources:

References

Bartlett, R. 1995. Folk pythons and boas: Complete guide for owners of large snake species. Mission Viejo, California: Bowtie Press.

Cogger, H. 1983. Reptiles and amphibians of Australia. Sanibel, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books.

McDowell, S. 1975. A Catalogue of the Snakes of New Guinea and the Solomons, with Special Reference to Those in the Bernice P. Bishop Museum. Part II. Anilioidea and Pythoninae. Journal of Herpetology, 9/1: 1-79.

O’Shea, M. 2007. Boas and Pythons of the World. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Rawlings, (L)., S. Donnellan. 2003. Phylogeographic analysis of the green python, Morelia viridis, reveals cryptic diversity. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 27: 36-44.

Ross, R., G. March. 1990. The Reproductive Husbandry of Pythons and Boas. Monks, Iowa: Garner Printing, Inc.

Torr, G. 2000. Pythons of Australia: A Natural History. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing Company.

Wilson, D. 2007. Foraging ecology and diet of an ambush predator: the green python Morelia viridis. Pp. 141-150 and R Henderson, R Powell, eds. Biology of the Boas and Pythons. Eagle Mountain, Utah: Eagle Mountain Publishing.

Wilson, D. 2006. On green tree pythons: The ecology and conservation of Morelia viridis – PhD Thesis. Austrailian National University, 1: 1-127.

Wilson, D., R. Heinsohn. 2007. Geographic range, population structure and conservation status of the green python (Morelia viridis), a popular snake in the captive pet trade. Australian Journal of Zoology, 55: 147-154.

Wilson, D., R. Heinsohn, J. Endler. 2007. The adaptive significance of ontogenetic colour change in a tropical python. Biology Letters, 3: 40-43.

Wilson, D., R. Heinsohn, S. Law. 2006. Age- and sex-related differences in the spatial ecology of a dichromatic tropical python (Morelia viridis). Australian Ecology, 31: 577-587.

Wilson, D., R. Heinsohn, J. Wood. 2006. Life-history traits and ontogenetic colour change in an arboreal tropical python, Morelia viridis. Journal of Zoology, 270: 399-407.

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