What is a Green Tree Python?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

The green tree python, Morelia viridis, was first found by Hermann Schlegel, director of a natural history museum, in 1872 on the Indonesian Aru Islands, and it also inhabits other nearby islands with the exception of the Bismarck Archipelago, New Guinea, and part of Australia. The green tree python belongs to the family Boidae, which includes boas and pythons, and the genus Morelia, which includes 11 species of carpet pythons. Python comes from the Greek name of a mythical serpent that the Greek god Apollo killed.

Green tree pythons live in tropical rainforests.
Green tree pythons live in tropical rainforests.

Viridis means “green,” and the green tree python is easily identified by its color. Its range is primarily in tropical rainforests, and low montane. It is primarily arboreal. The adults usually range in size from 4.5 to 6 ft (1.4 to 1.8 m), though lengths approaching 7.1 ft (2.2 m) have been known. Females tend to be larger than males.

The red variety of green tree pythons is only found in New Guinea.
The red variety of green tree pythons is only found in New Guinea.

In the wild, the average lifespan of a green tree python is 3.4 years, with specimens known to have lived to about 12 years. In captivity, they have lived as long as 20 years. As of 2007, the mating system in the wild had never been seen. It is known, however, that clutches are laid in October, and mothers brood their eggs for about 50 days. Eggs are laid in clutches of up to 30, and hatchlings are about 11 to 14 in (28 to 36 cm) long. Juveniles are yellow or red, but the red variety is found only in New Guinea.

The green tree python is carnivorous. The young green tree python is diurnal, and eat prey that is active during the day, often lizards, geckos and skinks. Adults eat mammals and birds and are nocturnal, with the change coming with their change from their juvenile coloration to green.

Predators of the green tree python include diurnal raptors, such as harpy eagles and other birds such as the rufous owl and black butcherbird. They are also preyed upon by the mangrove monitor, a type of lizard, and two mammals: the New Guinean quoll, a marsupial, and the dingo, a relative of the wolf. Its coloration helps the green tree python hide among the leaves in the canopy.

Pythons are not venomous, generally large, and can be found in Africa, Asia and Australia.
Pythons are not venomous, generally large, and can be found in Africa, Asia and Australia.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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