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Green Tree Python, Chondropython viridis


green tree python chrondo Introduction The Green Tree Python is a moderate size snake. Found throughout New Guinea and the surrounding islands. They inhabit dense rainforest, but are also known to occur near rivers, neatly coiled on branches overhanging the water in wait of prey to get a drink. They are primarily nocturnal, but have been observed basking on large branches during the day. Green Trees reach an average maximum length of 5 feet and will remain slender to accommodate it's arboreal style of life. They are superb predators of birds, small mammals, and the occasional frog, especially neonates and juveniles. Generally catching their prey at night and immobilizing it with their powerful constrictive loops.

Acclimation and Quarantine Wild Caught GTPs can be difficult to acclimate. Stress from being captured and imported to the country, most will require patience to get feeding and comfortable. A major problem has to do with the fact that wild-caught snakes harbor tremendous parasite loads, which, in a natural environment, are easily dealt with by the snake. However, some say that the stress of importation could suppress the snake’s immune system, in turn allowing the parasites to gain an upper hand on the health of the snake. Wild caught snakes should therefore be treated for parasites as soon as possible after purchase. Fresh imports are also often severely dehydrated. I have gathered a few ways to combat this issue. One way is to allow the snake to lie on a branch in the shower with lukewarm water. This should be done as soon as the snake is home, and supervision is a must during these times. Another way is to place the snake in a deli cup or other enclosed space filled to about one inch with lukewarm water. This method is very effective as the snakes will often drink during these sessions. One can also place the snake in a container with moist sphagnum moss. A large water dish should be present in the cage at all times. Quarantine or acclimation enclosures need not be elaborate, but rather sterile and easy to clean. Plastic storage bins are often used for such enclosures as they are easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes, and most provide the security needed for a freshly imported snake. Paper towels, newspapers, or other easily cleaned materials may be used as the substrate. A few pieces of varying diameters capped and screwed to the sides of the storage bin can provide climbing opportunities, and a small plastic container could be used as the water bowl. A hide of some sort, and foliage should also be incorporated into the quarantine enclosure. This setup should be used until the snake is feeding regularly and appears to be in good health.

Housing Once the snake is acclimated and feeding wellit may be put into a permanent cage. Green Tree Pythons don’t require very large enclosures. However, ample vertical space is a necessity as these snakes are mostly arboreal in their habits and will require such room to climb. A cage that is about 36” x 24” x 24” (L x W x H) is a minimum size for an individual or pair, but larger enclosures are usually better. Glass enclosures can be used, but are not the best choice for this species. To ensure that the snake is secure, a cage with at least five opaque sides is recommended. Wooden cages are a better alternative than glass cages because of the heightened security, but the high humidity needed for these snakes can wear on wooden cages after a while. By far, the best cages for this species are those made of polyethylene or controlled density PVC. These cages usually have only one transparent side and can also withstand the high humidity needed within the habitat. Such cages are also usually inexpensive and attractive. Now comes the fun part; furnishing the enclosure. Branches are very important in furnishing the enclosure as this snake almost never descends to the bottom of the cage. There should numerous branches located through out the enclosure. The snake should be able to access any point in the cage by way of branches. Arboreal hides should also be placed in the branches to provide the snakes with a sense of security in their arboreal habits. They should be placed at multiple levels to provide the snake with a thermal gradient. GTPs greatly prefer arboreal hides to those on the ground, so I highly recommend arboreal hides. Large amounts of foliage should be added to the cage to provide the snake with more places to hide. For substrate, soil, mulch, ground coconut, and sphagnum moss are all acceptable.

Lighting and Heating Green Tree Pythons are native to hot and humid climates of the Amazon . There should be a thermal gradient in the cage, so that the snake may choose the area of the cage where it is most comfortable. The warmest extreme of the cage should be between 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cooler side of the cage should be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is extremely important that the snake is provided with this thermal gradient so they can escape the heat, if it is not provided, your pet may suffer from heat exhaustion and possibly die! At night there should be a slight drop in temperature, preferably of about ten degrees. This will help promote certain natural behaviors for the snake, and will also help to recreate the natural drop in temperature that the snake would experience in the wild. A ceramic heat emitter is the perfect way to provide heat at night and during the day because it does not produce light but rather emits a radiant heat. Still, I prefer to use a fluorescent or incandescent bulb during the day to provide light.

Humidity Green Tree Pythons thrive in high humidity environments, and if the appropriate humidity is not created the snake could experience health problems. To achieve the necessary humidity, I simply spray the cage once a day with fresh water and provide a fresh water bowl of the appropriate size. When spraying the cage it is important to make sure that the substrate remains damp but not soggy. If too much moisture is present, the snake could develop problems with its scales or a respiratory infection. The ideal humidity range would be between 60-90%, but moments above and below this range are acceptable for short periods of time. The water bowl should be kept clean and full of water at times, and should also be large enough for the snake to fit in.

Feeding Feeding is straight forward. The rodents should be of an appropriate size relative to that of the snake you are feeding. You should feed neonates frequently to ensure rapid growth. A pinky/fuzzy or two twice a week is a good regimen. For adults 1 or 2 mice once a week will suffice. We recommend feeding be done in an enclosure other than what the snake lives in. By doing this you reduce the likely hood of an aggresive feeding response when you open it's cage. The feeding container can be bear bottom to ensure that the snake only swallows it's food and not any bedding which can lead to a mouth infection or an impaction in the stomach. If you plan on breeding your animals make sure that your female has good body weight before she is bred. Neonates may be difficult to initiate feeding, however once they accept their first meal they normally continue to feed well from then on. To entice a reluctant snake to feed I recommend placing the animal in a restricted container such as a deli dish in order to keep the food and it's scent in close proximity to the snake and leave it alone for about 24 hours. If this does not work you can also try a more grisly method in which the skull cap of a frozen thawed pinky is cut open exposing the brain matter and juices. This works with surprising results and most problem feeders cannot resist the smell of brains.

Water A dish of fresh water should always be available.  Most GTPs will not drink from a dish initially, however the water bowl will help to raise the humidity in the cage. After several months in captivity, mine did eventually learn to drink from a water dish... however, the dish is placed off the base of the tank and is mounted to some of the branches. The most reliable way to get your snake to drink is to mist/spray the cage once or twice a day. This serves two purposes. The first is humidity and the second is drinkable water for your pet. Most arboreal snakes will readily drink the droplets that accumulate on it's body and surroundings before they will drink from a bowl of standing water.

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