The Green tree python (Morelia viridis) is ViRiD – a Carn Predator from the Forest!
- Adult Green tree pythons are 150-180 centimetres long, but can grow up to 200 centimetres
- They can live for up to 20 years
- Juveniles are a different colour from the adults.
Found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia, ViRiD is a versatile, well-camouflaged, ambush predator. They have a lean, triangular-shaped body as opposed to a truly round body. Their head is large and distinct from their neck and body.
They are often seen resting on tree branches in a saddle shape, with their body draped either side and head sitting ready in the middle.
What colour is a young Green tree python?
The Australian ViRiD is actually a subspecies of those found overseas, and has a different pattern of white dots on its spine, and a different juvenile colour morph. Juvenile Green tree pythons are a bright lemon yellow with patches of purple-brown on their backs. At around one year of age, when they’re about 60-80 centimetres long, they slowly change colour to the emerald green we see in adults.
When a female ViRiD lays her eggs, as many as 25 at once, she protects and incubates them by wrapping her body around them. However, once the snakelets hatch she does not hang around to care for them and they are left to fend for themselves immediately.
How does a Green tree python hunt?
ViRiD are ambush predators, lying in wait in tree branches about one metre above the ground. They have a different coloured tip on their tail, which they use to lure prey closer before striking with their powerful jaws.
ViRiD are nocturnal, meaning they predominantly hunt at night, and one of ViRiD’s Superpowers is its ability to locate prey using ‘thermosensory’ pits in its mouth.
These pits work like a thermal imaging camera for the snake, allowing ViRiD to sense the presence of a warm-blooded creature without seeing it!
What does a Green tree python eat?
They eat small mammals like rats and mice, as well as small possums, and small lizards like geckoes. As a python, ViRiD is non-venomous; he uses constriction to immobilise his prey – which is another of this Superpowers.
When a prey item is within striking distance, they launch out to grab the unfortunate animal in their jaws. They then draw it into their bodies and wrap themselves around the prey multiple times, ensuring suffocation. She will then swallow the meal whole by unhinging her jaws to open as wide as possible.
Given their colour, it is no surprise that ViRiD’s favourite habitat is rainforest. They face risks from habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade, but this is currently well-controlled. ViRiD is able to survive drought and flood since it is nocturnal and usually arboreal, and has few predators in the wild, but juveniles are vulnerable to larger snakes and birds. Even adult ViRiD can be overcome by large birds of prey!
The ANiMOZ Story…
A shimmering green merges with the bright, wet leaves of the forest. With head raised, ViRiD waits patiently for her prey to look away, before striking! Aside from a brief squawk, the kill is silent, and she firmly wraps her body around her meal. Her CONSTRICTION Power makes this an easy victory, and as a Predator with few creatures capable of spotting her amongst the treetops, she can safely enjoy her success…
Have you ever seen a ViRiD in the wild? Make sure to share your photos and tag #wildANiMOZ!