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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Green Tree Python

Fig 1

Fig 2

Species : Morelia viridis
Maximum Size : 1.5 m

Morelia viridis (Green Tree Python) is one of Papua New Guinea's most well known snake species. It occurs a variety of habitats including dry forest, swamp forest and cultivated areas.

The adult is unmistakable: the dorsal surface is bright green, or sometimes bluish, and the ventral surface pale yellow or white. A pale vertebral stripe is generally seen. Juveniles are mostly bright yellow throughout, but in some areas may be dorsally red, orange or green.

The body is muscular, and the head is short. The eyes are large with a vertical pupil, and the heat-sensing pits, with which the snake is able to detect infra-red heat from warm-blooded prey, are easily visible on the lower lip.

As in other pythons, the head scales are numerous and finely granular. Morelia viridis is not exclusively a tree-dweller, but will come to ground if needed, however they prefer to rest amongst trees by day.

Their diet is varied and includes lizards and small mammals.

This species is widely distributed in PNG, occurring at elevations of up to 2000 metres. Its range also extends into the western half of the island of New Guinea, nearby Indonesian islands, and parts of Australia's Cape York Peninsula.

Fig 1 : This 1.2 metre specimen was found at night in the middle of a rough track, adjacent to freshwater swamp forest next to Lake Kutubu (elevation 835 metres), Southern Highlands Province, PNG.

Fig 2 : Note the heat-sensing pits lining the lower lip.

Fig 3 : Juvenile from Alotau, Milne Bay Province, PNG. Photo thanks to Nicolai Glaese.

References : H6

Fig 3

ゥ  Nicolai Glaese