The green tree python (Morelia viridis) is a gorgeous snake native to Indonesia, Australia, and New Guinea. These arboreal animals are found in tropical rainforests.
In their natural habitat, juveniles can be found at the edges of the forest close to the ground. Adults can be found deeper in the forest and higher up in the trees.
These are not the largest arboreal snakes. Most animals will grow to between 4 and 6 feet in length. If you want to keep one of these vibrant snakes as a pet, this guide will teach you the basics of their care.
One interesting factor with this species is that snakes from different bloodlines can have very different personalities.
Snakes from the Biak line (biak green tree pythons) are known to be more likely to strike. Wild populations are also well-known for being nearly impossible to handle.
This is likely because of how stressful it is to be caught and shipped across the planet.
Please always buy captive-bred snakes to help avoid supporting poaching. You can also be sure what line your snake is from and how it may act. The breeder may have also started handling the snake young so you may end up with one that tolerates handling better.
- Enclosure Maintenance
- Feeding Green Tree Pythons
- How Often to Feed
- Common Issues
- GTP Localities
The goal of housing is to offer as close to your snake’s native habitat as possible.
You want to replicate the temperature and humidity. You also want to give your snake the chance to exhibit as many natural behaviors as possible.
Learn how these arboreal snakes behave in the wild and this can help guide you in how to set up the enclosure for your GTP.
These snakes are typically kept as display animals. That means you want a cage with a clear front so you can admire your green tree python.
While these snakes are arboreal, and do enjoy tree branches, they prefer horizontal room over vertical room. You will need plenty of space for perches at varying heights and angles so your snake can choose where to sit and get plenty of exercise.
Front opening is best since these snakes will lash out if you approach from above. A perch you can take out of the enclosure with the snake on it is a good idea.
This makes tasks like cage cleaning less stressful.
Enclosure for Juvenile Green Tree Pythons
Baby green tree pythons hatch at about 8-14 inches. They do grow to their adult size within 5 years. You should start the snake out in an enclosure with enough room for perches and size up as the snake grows.
Be sure you have enough room for hides, a water bowl, and plenty of sturdy perches that cover multiple levels of the enclosure.
Exo Terra Short Terrarium (18x18x12)
- Front access will stress your animal a lot less than enclosures opening from the top
- Completely escape-proof
- Well designed ventilation
- Convenient inlets for heating cables, without any visible wires.
This works well as a starter enclosure for a young snake. It has front access, secure locks, and plenty of cable management for the heating system.
You may need to cover part of the screen if your home has low humidity.
Enclosure for Adult Green Tree Python
Adult green tree pythons need much more horizontal space than you would think.
They need at least 2 feet in height for perches and a minimum of 3 feet in length. The larger, the better with this species.
They prefer staying at one level in the canopy and may avoid coming down to drink.
Reptizoo Terrarium – 36Lx18Dx24H
- Front access will stress your snake a lot less than enclosures opening from the top
- Completely escape-proof
- Convenient inlets for heating cables, without any visible wires.
- Very sturdy, and easy to setup
Having a shorter and longer enclosure is best. You will need multiple levels of perches that are the width of the snake. Be sure you have enough room to stabilize the perches or your snake may become stressed out.
This is the minimum needed for a small snake. Green tree pythons can get quite big, If you have a large animal like a female, look for a longer enclosure so your snake can stretch out.
Thankfully it is possible to find these larger cages on the market, but consider a custom cage that is set up for arboreal species. This can be a great solution if you are struggling to create secure perches.
Since this species live in a very humid environment in their natural environment, they need high humidity.
Your main concern will be ensuring you don’t end up with moldy substrate, as you do not have natural drainage systems in the enclosure. Paper products such as unprinted newspaper, paper towels, or special reptile paper work well.
If you want something that looks nicer or holds humidity well, consider a product like Reptichip:
ReptiChip Compressed Coconut Chip Substrate
- This encapsulates waste product, creating a healthy environment for your pet and ensuring your own home is pleasant-smelling.Easy to hang and create an arboreal shelter
- Great humidity retention makes it easy to reach and maintain the required humidity levels
- Coco chips are highly sustainable and earth-friendly.
It holds humidity well and you shouldn’t need too much for an arboreal snake. You can also opt for cypress mulch or soil for a bio-active setup. Just make sure you do not use a wood shavings substrate that contains pine or cedar.
These woods can be toxic to reptiles. You should also avoid any drying substrate like sand.
Aspen will also mold very quickly at the tropical humidity this species needs. Be sure you agitate your substrate at least every other day to help prevent mold.
This species does best with a horizontal heat gradient to replicate the natural range. Pick one end and set up all heating and lighting on that end. A heat mat controlled by a thermostat placed on the side of the enclosure works well.
Tikaton Reptile Heat Pad
- Only uses 8 Watts of electricity to operate
- Power adjustable so you can use it in 10 up to 50 gallons enclosure.
- Zero risk of burning your snake
You can use a ceramic heat bulb, heat lamp or heat panel if you need help maintaining the right temperatures. Just be careful since these can dry out the enclosure.
What is the appropriate temperature for a green tree python enclosure?
A Green tree python needs 84-88 degrees Fahrenheit as the ambient temperature on the hot spot and no cooler than 78 degrees on the cool side. A basking spot up to 92 degrees can be offered.
This can be a perch that is close to the heat source but doesn’t allow the snake to touch the heat. Any heating should be blocked from the snake or it can be seriously burned.
Zoo Med Reptitemp Thermostat
- Built in memory stores settings in case of power failure.
- Temperature control range: 50F to 122F
- Very reliable & easy to setup
Green tree pythons don’t need any special lighting, but a full-spectrum bulb can help you appreciate these beautiful bright green display snakes.
Make sure it is on for no more than 12 hours at a time. You should also be sure to only place the bulb on one side so your snake can avoid it if it likes.
Place it above the highest perch on the hot side and offer a shadier hide on a lower level so the snake can enjoy the heat without the light if it wants.
These arboreal snakes do not typically use ground-level hides. You will want to position greenery like silk plants to offer hides.
Green Grass Hanging Shelter
- Treated preventing mildew and mold
- Easy to hang and create an arboreal shelter
- Provides a safe hiding place
Place these to cover a few levels of perch on each side. Make sure to offer these on sturdy perches or your snake may choose to avoid a hide because it is afraid of falling.
Make sure you offer a humid hide on the hot side of the floor in case your snake wants more humidity. Any hide that is enclosed and can fit the whole snake and some damp sphagnum moss works well.
Snakes need constant access to fresh drinking water. For species that need a lot of humidity, the water dish can help regulate the humidity of the enclosure.
Many snakes also like to soak, particularly when they are close to shedding.
Look for a heavy dish that won’t tip over and is easy to clean. Make sure it can fit the whole snake if it decides to soak.
Repti Zoo Medium Water Dish
- Made of resin: looks good and doesn’t easily tip over
- Matches well most terrarium decors
This is a nice option for a young snake.
Since green tree pythons are from tropical rainforests, you will need to offer plenty of humidity to replicate their natural environment.
What is the right humidity for a green tree python enclosure?
Generally, you will want to keep your green tree python’s enclosure between 50 and 70 percent humidity. It can be slightly higher right after a misting or during shedding, but you should let the enclosure dry out between meetings.
You can mist once a day or use a reptile fogger. Make sure you have a hygrometer that you check daily.
Terrarium Sphagnum Moss
- Long-Lasting: Long-Fiber and Leafy Green Sphagnum Moss
- High Absorbency: Controls Tropical & Wetland Humidity
- Sustainable: Ecologically Regulated Harvests
You can use damp sphagnum moss to help retain humidity. If you place this is a hide on the warm side, it can help your snake shed successfully. Live plants can also help maintain a humid environment.
You should be misting and replacing the water every single day.
Be sure to check the temperature of your snake’s favorite perches and the humidity. You should also check for feces and urates and do a spot cleaning.
Make sure you replace any removed substrate. You should wash the water dish weekly with soap to help cut down on bacterial growth.
Once a month you need to do a full cleaning of your snake’s enclosure. This means placing your snake in a temporary enclosure and turning off all the lights and heating.
Next, take out all perches and hides to clean them. Remove the old substrate and scrub the glass with a reptile-safe sanitizer. Be sure not to spray cold liquid on hot glass or you may need to rush out for a new enclosure.
Once that is clean, leave it open to dry while you sanitize all the hides and perches. Once these are clean, you can fill the enclosure with fresh substrate and place all the decorations.
This is a great time to switch things up so your snake can explore and get some enrichment.
Once everything is placed and your snake has fresh water, you can turn the heating back on and put your pet back. Be sure to lock everything up including the screen.
Feeding Green Tree Pythons
In the wild and their natural habitat, green tree pythons eat mainly vertebrates.
This includes both reptiles and mammals. Juveniles and young snakes typically hunt and constrict (they are not venomous) smaller prey during the day and adults prefer larger prey taken at night.
This can help you decide when to feed your python depending on its age.
Type and Size of Prey
In captivity, green tree pythons are fed either mice or rats. Babies will start on newborn mice or rats and move up in size.
Smaller snakes will typically be started on mice, while some larger hatchlings can take rat pups from the beginning. Generally, you should feed prey that is no larger than the widest point of your snake.
Any larger and you risk regurgitation and injury. Feeding large prey items can cause illness, impaction, and even death in green tree pythons.
Adult green tree pythons will take older mice or rats depending on the size.
Frozen Vs Live
Offering live prey is frequently considered good enrichment for snakes. The problem is that live prey can injure or kill a snake. If you are feeding your snake an animal that is capable of fighting back, it will.
Injuries from prey can become infected and kill your pet. Generally, frozen and thawed prey is much safer for your snake. You also have the bonus that you can stock up on appropriate prey easily and have it ready to go.
With live prey, you will need to go out and get prey for every meal or breed your own. Some snakes will refuse thawed food. If this is the case with your snake, you will need to watch every single feeding to keep your pet safe.
Micedirect Frozen Mice
- Direct from the producer
- Packed in dry ice, delivered by FedEx
- These feeder Mice for snakes are put to sleep with Co2 so they never suffer
Frozen prey can be bought at any pet store or bought online and shipped to your door. Live feeders will need to be found locally. Check your local Facebook groups or reptile stores for live feeders.
How Often to Feed
Babies should be fed around every 4 days. They grow fast and need plenty of food. Brand new hatchlings may not eat for up to 4 weeks since they still have the yolk of their egg to live off of.
How often do green tree pythons eat?
Juveniles will have meals about once a week. Adults will eat every 12 days or so. Watch your snake’s weight and adjust your feeding times. Some animals have faster metabolisms and will need food more often.
Shedding is how snakes grow. A snake’s skin can only stretch so far. Once they reach a certain size or have an injury, the snake will start the shedding process. You may notice the belly become pink or the eyes may look cloudy.
This is a sign your snake is about to shed. Be sure to up the humidity and offer a humid hide. Once you see the snake’s eyes clear up, it should shed its skin within a few days.
Check the skin once your snake has shed to make sure it is intact. Pay special attention to the eyes and tail of the snake. These are frequently retained and can lead to injury or amputation if the old skin is left alone.
If your snake has stuck shed, place it in a ventilated container with some warm, damp paper towels.
Leave it for about 15 minutes and see if you can get the stuck shed off. If you can’t, it may be time to head to the vet.
Green tree pythons are typically display snakes. Some captive-bred animals may tolerate handling, but any wild-caught animals will be very defensive. There are ways you can make it easier to handle your snake.
The single biggest step is to set up removable perches. This makes it much easier to take your snake out to handle it. Most green tree pythons do not like being picked up or lifted off a perch like other snake species.
If your snake is on a removable perch, it is easy to take the snake out. You can then offer your arm as a new perch for your snake.
Most snakes are much less defensive once they are out of their enclosure. Taking them out during the day will also make them less defensive.
Most green tree pythons will be more likely to strike in the evening when they are awake and looking for a meal.
Once your snake is out, be sure not to restrain it. Just offer your hand as a perch and keep its head away from you if it is in a strike position.
Do not approach the snake’s head, let it come to you. Be very careful with their tail as well. Green tree pythons have very thin and delicate tails. It is easy to accidentally break the tail of these naturally slender snakes if you are not very gentle.
Handle your snake for less than 10 minutes and return it to the enclosure when it is calm. This helps make your snake associate handling with something positive like a chance to explore.
Just remember that this species will likely never be willing to hang out with you. When it is time to return your snake, place them near a perch and let them climb on.
You can gently stroke the end of their body to encourage them to move onto a perch. Once the snake is fully on a perch, you can close the door and lock it again. If your snake keeps trying to strike at you, you can try using gloves.
Thick gloves that your snake cannot bite through will help you handle the snake with confidence. It can also help make sure your snake does not confuse your hand for a meal.
There are a few common concerns with this species. Read on to learn more about common issues and how to handle them.
My Green Tree Python Won’t Eat
Green tree pythons can be picky if they are stressed out. New snakes will refuse food until they feel secure to attract prey. Give a new snake a week to settle and offer a meal in the evening once their lights go off.
Most snakes will learn a schedule for feeding and wait for you to feed them. If your snake isn’t eating suddenly, it could have a parasite or be sick.
Take it to the vet to address any sudden changes. Wild green tree pythons are also more likely to have a parasite or illness that reduces their appetite. Make sure you have any new snake examined if you are not certain it came from a responsible breeder.
Pet green tree pythons may also refuse a meal if the temperature or humidity is off. Check with an IR temperature gun and check your humidity.
My Green Tree Python is Hiding
If your green tree python is always hiding, it could be a concern. If it is not on a perch, the snake could feel too exposed on the perches. If the snake feels like it is at risk from predators, it may retreat to whatever hide it feels is most secure.
Sick snakes may also hide away. Make sure you put the enclosure in a quiet room away from most of the activity in your home. You will also want to make sure other pets like cats and any children are kept away from the snake. Cats and dogs can register as predators to a snake.
Many young children are excitable and can frighten a snake. Make sure your snake has perches that feel a bit more hidden by adding silk plants to help cover them. Be sure the temperatures are also correct at the perches. If it is too hot or cold, your snake may avoid staying in that spot.
Respiratory illness and parasites are very common issues in pet green tree pythons. You should have your snake checked out when you first get it to make sure it is healthy.
Signs of respiratory illness include wheezing, unusual noises like popping, excess mucus, pus, and breathing with the mouth open.
Snakes are vulnerable to skin infections and dehydration from improper humidity as well. Keep it in the right range to keep your snake healthy.
Watch any shedding closely and look for any changes to the skin or color. Green tree pythons are very vulnerable to broken tails. If you pull on the snake, it may suffer a fractured tail.
This will hurt and can lead to infections or poor healing that leaves the snake unable to move its tail. Be very careful around the snake’s tail and never grab it.
My Green Tree Python is Aggressive
The first question is if your snake is actually aggressive or merely defensive. If your snake is an adult and tries to strike every time you open the enclosure, you may need to look into how a previous owner treated it.
Some snake owners only open the enclosure to feed the snake so they learned that the door opening means a meal. If this is a sudden change in behavior for a snake you have owned for a while, your snake may be sick and trying to defend itself.
Wait until your snake is asleep to remove the perch and take your snake to the vet. Some snakes may also be defensive. Always remove the perch with the snake on it and be patient.
This species can be tamed down, but it can take a long time. Remember that this is a species for those who have owned snakes before. You need to know snake body language and know how to confidently handle snakes.
You can find several types of green tree pythons, from the cape york peninsula and other places, depending on tropical rain forests localities some morphs and localities are more expensive than others. The localities are:
- Green tree python | Smithsonian’s National Zoo
- The Distribution of the Green Python (Morelia viridis) in Australia
- Nidovirus-Associated Proliferative Pneumonia in the Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis)
Green tree pythons and Emerald Tree Boas are beautiful snakes that come in stunning colors. These amazing animals change color from orange, red, or yellow to the greens and blues that many adults show.
If you want one, be sure you have experience in snakes. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to leave them below.