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Completely arboreal with a striking green color in adults. The color pattern on this species can vary from locality to locality. The Aru locality for example is a vivid green with a broken vertebral stripe of white or dull yellow scales. Spots of the same color, or blue spots, may be scattered over the body (Blue spotting commonly was previously the juvenile pattern). Cyanomorphs (blue morphs) are also known to occur but are not considered common at this time. Juveniles are polymorphic, occurring in reddish, bright yellow and orange morphs.
The species was first described by Hermann Schlegel in 1872. Although Raymond Hoser claims to have described a subspecies of this python, none are currently recognized. It is often informally named as the green tree python.
Found in Indonesia (Misool, Salawati, Aru Islands, Schouten Islands, most of Western New Guinea), Papua New Guinea (including nearby islands from sea level to 1,800 m elevation, Normanby Island and the d'Entrecasteaux Islands) and Australia (Queensland along the east coast of the Cape York Peninsula). The type locality given is "Aroe-eilanden" (Aru Islands, Indonesia).
Rainforests, bushes and shrubs.
The largest threat to the species is habitat destruction, particularly in Western New Guinea, which is currently occupied by Indonesia and is being logged by the Indonesian government. Many of these old growth forests that they live in are also inhabited by native papuan tribes who eat the snakes.
Primarily arboreal, these snakes have a particular way of resting in the branches of trees; they loop a coil or two over the branches in a saddle position and place their head in the middle. This trait is shared with the emerald tree boa, Corallus caninus, of South America. This habit, along with their appearance, has caused people to confuse the two species when seen outside their natural habitat.
The diet consists of small mammals, such as rodents, and sometimes reptiles. Despite many references in the literature, it does not include birds. Switak conducted field work on this issue and in examining stomach contents of more than 1,000 animals he did not find any evidence of avian prey items. Prey is captured by holding onto a branch using the prehensile tail and striking out from an s-shape position.
Oviparous, with 1-25 viable eggs per clutch. In the wild eggs are incubated and protected by the female, often in the hollow of a tree. Hatchlings are lemon yellow with broken stripes and spots of purple and brown, or golden or orange/red. Over time the color changes as the animal matures, color of the adult depends on the locality of the animal (some taking many years to finish color change.
These snakes are often bred and kept in captivity, although they are usually considered an advanced species. This is due to their specific care requirements, but once these are met they thrive in captivity. The second reason they are considered advanced is from wild caught individuals that often carry parasites and rarely tame down, although captive bred individuals usually calm down. The caging for these animals is a bit more specific then the average python. As long as these requirements are met the animal becomes very low maintenance. Shiloh Hawkesworth wrote an article for Reptiles Magazine "Heat Seeker" article "Heat Seeker" continuation going over these requirements.