Apr 24, 2009


Green Tree Pythons are arboreal snakes so we must preparing suitable environment so that they can live well like in their habitats. The habitat of chondros is rainforest in New Guinea, Indonesia and the northern tip of Australia so we must set up heating, lighting, humidity, etc.


Captive chondros do best with a thermal gradient established in the cage. A horizontal gradient is much preferred over a vertical one. Most chondros will perch in the highest part of the cage and will often ignore a vertical gradient. The gradient should be between 78F and 89F with an average temperature of 85 degrees or so. Most captives seek out temperatures around 84-85F under normal conditions, but may bask under warmer temps after eating and at other times. Avoid temperatures under 75F and over 90F.
The best and easiest way to provide heat for display type cages is with an overhead radiant heat panel. I use and recommend those sold by Pro Products. These panels work very well, and most importantly they will not burn your animals.

While chondros do not need any special lighting, such as a Vita-lite or other brands that provide full spectrum light, they do respond well to some type of florescent light that provides a 12-hour photoperiod as a part of each 24 hour cycle. If you are using a fluorescent cage light, you may as well use a full spectrum bulb, because they will show your animal's true colors and beauty. A simple lamp timer is an easy way to regulate the daily photoperiod. Tree pythons are highly nocturnal, and many will not feed except at night. It is natural for them to enjoy a long dark period as a part of each 24 hour cycle.

Green Tree Python Cage Sample

This is an important topic when discussing chondro husbandry, and is one that causes unnecessary confusion. The level of humidity in a given environment will be based on a number of factors such as how much moisture is added to the cage daily, temperature, ventilation, how well the cage substrate holds and releases moisture, etc. You will need to experiment with your own set up and existing factors, adjusting these until you have the correct balance. Use observation as the best guide, which is better than attempting to maintain a specific percentage of relative humidity. Also, remember that just having a wet cage interior is not the same as providing humidity, which is the amount of moisture in the air. For example, an excessively ventilated cage can have standing water on the floor and still not be humid.
Many people have an exaggerated idea of how much humidity these snakes require. They may suffer health problems if kept too wet, including skin infections. The only time to err on the wet side is during the animal’s shed cycle. Chondros are very thin skinned and sheds will dry on them very easily if the relative humidity is too low during the shedding period. The goal should be a gradual drying out period at night and early morning, followed by an increase in humidity in the afternoon and early evening. Condensation on the glass 24 hours a day, or the growth of mildew or mold, indicates excessive humidity. On the other hand, if the cage is dry three hours after spraying, there is not enough humidity. A hand-held mister or pressure sprayer works just fine for daily misting. I have used automatic misting systems and do not care for them. Another important point to remember is that chondros may drink off of themselves after misting, so keep the water and the sprayer clean!
To sum up...provide moderate to heavy humidity, along with an overnight drying out period. Regulate cage humidity by increasing or decreasing the amount of misting and dampness in the cage substrate, along with adjusting the ventilation. And remember, other than at shedding time, humidity is not critical. Getting it right is important to the long term health of your animals, but having it too high or too low for brief periods won't hurt anything.

The purpose of the cage substrate is to provide an easy to clean material that will hold and release moisture. Newspaper works well and is easy to replace. Red cypress mulch is an ideal substrate smells and looks very nice and holds moisture well, plus it is inexpensive. I do not like green indoor-outdoor carpeting as it can hold a lot of filth, and stays wet underneath providing a place for bacteria to grow. Do not use standing water as a substrate. I don't know how that idea got started, but it is potentially unsanitary, and difficult to keep clean. Avoid any materials that grow mold quickly when damp. Be careful to make sure that you keep these substrates clean and free from mold since the Green Tree Python's cage is normally high in humidity. We also recommend that you use Sphagnum Moss in your terrarium since this will help keep the humidity to proper levels.

Chondros spend most of their time perched on some type of branch. You will need to provide them with some type of secure perch that is about the same body diameter as the animal you are housing. I use real wood perches in most of my cages, cut from Sugar Maple trees. These look great, are safe and non-toxic, clean up easily by scrubbing with a stiff brush and some hot water, are free, and don't grow mold like wood dowel rod does. Wash cut branches thoroughly, and make sure there are no parasites in or on them. Branches cut from live trees rarely have parasites inside. Other perch materials that work well are plastic rods and PVC pipes of the correct diameter. Avoid using hardwood dowels from the hardware store, because these mildew and discolor quickly. Make sure to mount your perches securely so they won't rotate or fall when the animals use them. I use hooks and screw-in eyes from the hardware store to hang my perches, and I use branches that are forked so I have a three-point contact when hanging them...this prevents them from rotating.

Live plants look nice if kept moderate in size, and can contribute to a good atmosphere in the cage. Pothos works very well and looks great. The trouble with live Pothos and other plants is that they need a lot of light to grow, and won't thrive under the limited florescent light recommended for chondro cages. They also require pruning, watering, and fertilization. A great alternative to live plants are good quality silk plants, obtainable from craft supply stores. Regardless of what you use, make sure to wash it first. Live plants must be assumed to have insecticide on them and in the soil, so be sure to replace the soil and wash the leaves well.

Drinking Water
Water bowl size is not critical, and a large one will help increase humidity. Too large of a water bowl will make cleaning it and changing the water a chore, which you will then tend to put off. Keeping the bowl clean and the water fresh is more important than bowl size. I am not in favor of the practice of placing water bowls on top of heating pads to increase humidity. Heated water grows bacteria more quickly, and I don't like drinking warm water so I don't think my chondros would either. As was mentioned in the humidity section, chondros will often drink droplets of water off of themselves after misting. Because of this, make sure the water you spray on them and the cage interior is safe and clean, as well as keeping the sprayer clean. Don't use petroleum based lubricants on pump sprayers, as this goes into the water. Use olive oil.
Some individuals tend to complicate GTP husbandry by suggesting elaborate or impractical methods for providing the animals' needs, and hydration is one of these issues. There is no need for foggers, humidity contraptions, elevated water bowls, or other such devices. Healthy chondros, kept in a proper environment, do not have a predisposition to dehydration. True expertise with these animals is reflected in simple and easy care information that is time-proven to be effective.

Cage Setup
To sum up, set up your cage with a horizontal thermal gradient between 82-88 degrees. Use a high quality proportional thermostat to regulate an overhead heat panel, hanging the thermostat probe under the heater at perch height. Use a good thermometer to establish cage temps - don't guess. Provide clean drinking water in a medium sized bowl, and spray daily to develop a high humidity period that dries slowly. Use a timer to establish a twelve hour photoperiod.

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