Animal Spotlight: Green Tree Python

A Green Tree Python! These arboreal snakes are born yellow or brick-red and turn bright green as they mature. Their vivid color, with a pattern of spots and stripes, provides a perfect camouflage. They can be virtually invisible in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea, eastern Indonesia and the northeast Cape York Peninsula of Australia. They have a prehensile tail (capable of grasping) that helps them climb trees and also plays a devilishly clever role in hunting.

They rest coiled horizontally on tree limbs forming a ‘ saddle’ pose with their head resting in the middle, which is also a good position to collect rain water. In the hunting position, the head is looking down ready to strike, and they often dangle and wiggle their worm-like tails to lure curious prey. This coiled position allows them to spring into action for a quick capture and instant immobilization of a tasty meal. These ambush predators are patient hunters, moving infrequently; in fact, to avoid being revealed, they typically only change positions during dusk or dawn.

Green Tree Pythons are non-venomous constrictors. Their one hundred teeth are backward-facing, and primarily keep the captured prey in place until it can be eased down into the digestive tract, because they swallow everything whole. They eat small mammals, rodents, frogs and other amphibians, birds, and other reptiles, like lizards, and though they’re capable of moving down from the trees to the ground, most of what they need comes to them and their wiggling “worm” high in the tree canopies. Juveniles are diurnal (active during the day) and hunt smaller animals. Adults are nocturnal and hunt larger mammals and reptiles, since they can open their mouths wider. Although they spend most of their time in the trees, Green Tree Pythons occasionally will come down to the base of a tree and use their sight and heat-sensing labial pits to locate an unlucky victim.

Colorful Babies

If it looks like a Green Tree Python….


Meet Diego and Frida

It’s exciting to think of all the reptile relatives that will soon live nearby in the Reid Park Zoo expansion, but no matter what showy reptiles come to live in the Pathway to Asia, (like a Komodo Dragon!) Diego and Frida will still rank among the most beautiful creatures of their kind.

Originally published at on July 6, 2021.

Advocating for the Reid Park Zoo expansion. Not affiliated with Reid Park Zoo, The Reid Park Zoological Society, or The City of Tucson Parks and Recreation.

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