Green Tree Python Babies Slither into Houston
February 21, 2011
Green Tree Pythons are a favorite among reptile fans due to their vibrant green color. However, zoo visitors are often amazed to see that newly hatched babies are either bright yellow or brick red. The Houston Zoo recently hatched 18 little Green Tree Pythons, 8 yellow and 10 red. These colors help them hide in their preferred habitat, which is in low lying tree branches along the forest edge. When they grow to about 22 inches long their color changes to bright green - sometimes this color change can occur in only 8 days! The red and yellow colors are not related to sex or any other trait. While these reptiles may eventually reach over 4 1/2 feet in length, at birth they are about the length of a pencil.
(Below) An adult Green Tree Python in its trademark colors
Photo credits: Stephanie Adams
More photos and info below the fold
Green tree pythons live in any type of tropical forest including both rain forest and secondary growth forest. Adults are found high up in trees, sometimes over eighty feet above the ground. Hatchlings live near the ground and feed on lizards and invertebrates. As these pythons grow, their diet changes to one comprising small mammals and birds. As this occurs they move higher and higher into the trees. Adults average around 4.5 feet in length. The young normally hatch sometime during November to mid December. This is just in time for the wet season, which helps to ensure plenty of food for the young pythons.
The Houston Zoo has had Green tree pythons in the collection since the late 1960's. The father has been at the Houston Zoo since January, 1986, and has fathered other offspring in the past, while the mother has been with us since October, 2008, when she was evacuated from Moody Gardens after Hurricane Ike. Of the 19 eggs laid, 18 hatched after a 54 day incubation period. Their average weight was only 8 ½ grams, which is less than a third of an ounce.