Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis)

Habitat :

HABITAT AND ECOLOGY Morelia viridis is restricted to primarily to closed forest habitats, but will also utilize other habitats adjacent to closed forests (Natusch and Natusch 2011). The species has also been recorded in regrowth areas and rural gardens in New Guinea (O'Shea 1996). It is an arboreal species, however it descends to the ground to hunt at night (Wilson et al. 2006). It is a nocturnal, ‘sit and wait’ predator that feeds primarily on lizards (especially skinks) as a juvenile, before switching to feed primarily on small mammals as an adult (Natusch and Lyons 2014). Morelia viridis males reach sexual maturity at approximately 91 cm and females at 112 cm SVL (Natusch and Lyons 2014). It is an oviparous species with a clutch size of between 6-32 eggs and incubation period of around 52 days. Captive individuals have been observed to mate, deposit eggs and hatch throughout the year, however the reproductive cycle in wild individuals occurs during the winter (dry season months (July - November) (D. Natusch pers. comm. 2018). This species goes through ontogenetic changes in color and pattern. (Barker and Barker 1994, O’Shea 1996, Allison et al. 1998, Cermak 2008, Natusch and Natusch 2011, Natusch and Lyons 2012).

Current Status :

Morelia viridis is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This species has protected status in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia (Natusch and Lyons 2012) and occurs in numerous protected areas. There is evidence that M. viridis exported from Indonesia as captive-bred are in fact wild-caught (Lyons and Natusch 2011). This trade has skewed the population demographics of some island subpopulations, which may be indicative of unsustainable levels of offtake. It appears that breeding M. viridis is currently not a cheap alternative to laundering wild-caught animals and is therefore not fulfilling the conservation objectives that led to the establishment of farms. Nevertheless, for most subpopulations harvesting is not considered a major threat, and laundering of specimens through farms is a compliance problem rather than a conservation issue (Natusch 2018). Because M. viridis is primarily restricted to closed forest habitats, protection of these habitats is the most important challenge for conserving this species. The expansion of oil palm plantations in West Papua and Papua, Indonesia, and subsequent habitat loss through increasing development in the region, is the most significant threat to the conservation of this species.


CLASS : Reptilia

ORDER : Squamata

FAMILY : Pythonidae

GENUS : Morelia

SPECIES : Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis)

Conservation status : Least Concern

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Update : 11 April 2017