Thursday, March 5, 2009
The beautiful Green Tree Python (morelia viridis), or “chondro”, lives in the tropical island forests of the south-eastern pacific. Their populations are distributed along the New Guinea land mass and nearby islands as far south as the Australian Cape York Peninsula. Being just south of the equator this regional climate is hot and humid with mild seasonal variation and nearly equal periods of day and night. Average daily temperatures range from 70°F (26°C) to 90°F(32°C).
While the wet season is November through April (monsoon season) ; it nonetheless rains year round. Annual precipitations vary from 79 to 197 inches (2,000 to 5,000mm) and are heaviest in the highlands. Like most rainforest climates, the humid heat built up during the day is relieved by strong afternoon thunderstorms.
Chondros primarily inhabit the rain forests and adjacent transitional re-growth areas, but not in the surrounding swamp and woodlands. They are common in open forests with significant sunlight penetration and in elevations from sea-level to 6,500 foot (2000m).
Researchers have observed wild specimens during the day coiled in branches from just above ground level to the top of the forest canopy. Chondros are nocturnal species, remaining perched and motionless during the day with their activity usually beginning around dusk when they descend to a hunting location a few inches above ground-level. Despite their name, Green “Tree” Pythons are surprisingly comfortable on the ground; in fact, some have been observed coiled and hunting from the forest floor.
Contrary to popular belief, chondros rarely prey on birds. Their diet consists of small mammals, such as rodents, and sometimes reptiles. This explains their habit of descending to hunt. Prey is captured by holding onto a branch using the prehensile tail and striking out from an s-shape position. Their explosive speed and agility when striking is nothing short of awesome.