The image of snakes in our mind is that of a fearsome animal.
However, not all snakes are ruthless. Some species are harmless and quite attractive to look at. The Green Tree Snake is one such species.
Green Tree snakes are one of the splendid-looking snakes. Although characterized by a striking green color, a closer look would reveal that these snakes have a splattering of white, yellow, and blue, making their bodies like a work of art. This medley of colors helps them blend in the environment and trick their predators. Funnily, the unique green color is not there when the young ones hatch. The newborns are maroon or yellow. It’s only after 6-8 months that their body becomes green. Another remarkable feature is their laterally compressed bodies with a diamond-shaped head that is covered with fragmented scales.
They are lean and slender with males weighing around 1,100–1,400 g. The females are comparatively heavier at 1,600 g at the best. The total length of the Green Tree snake, including the tail, is 4.9–5.9 ft.
Its venom is only slightly toxic and not dangerous to humans.
Home and Habitat
Green Tree snakes are natives of New Guinea and Australia. These snakes are a common sight in Australia’s Northern tropics, eastern parts, and Kimberley region in Western Australia.
Green Tree snakes are arboreal or tree-dwelling species. And it’s by their distinct dwelling place that they derive their name from. They can be spotted delicately coiled around tree branches with their heads in the middle of the coil. Although chiefly arboreal but can be seen slithering on the ground as well.
When near the water bodies, the long grass helps them to hide from their prey by camouflage themselves . They are diurnal by nature. This means that they are active during the day, while the nighttime is spent either resting or sleeping. The green tree snakes use hollowed trees, herbage, crevices in rocks, etc for their relaxation. The can climb walls and trees.
These lovely looking reptiles are carnivorous and find their sustenance from consuming smaller mammals like rodents and skinks, tree lizards, and geckos in the reptilian variety. The adult snakes also leave the trees to hunt for their food on the ground.
Green Tree snakes have a peculiar way of catching their prey. All they do is sits in a S-shaped position and wiggle their tail. When the prey comes close enough to satiate its curiosity about the moving object, it is attacked and suffocated.
They spend most of their time on trees, venturing on the ground only when they see a ground-bound prey or when they want to change the tree they dwell on.
Known for their high temper, the Green Tree snakes are easily perturbed. When agitated they become very protective of themselves. They are solitude loving creatures and are active in the months of April – October. Onset on winters sees them hibernating in anthills and uninhabited rodent burrows with other green tree snakes.
Green tree snakes are very curious by nature and if spotted in a domestic surroundings like a garden, they would want to have a good look at you. They are characterized by agility and can escape quickly. As a defence mechanism they send noxious smelling fluid when they feel threatened.
Mating and Reproduction
The reproductive cycle of these snakes starts from late August and lasts until late December. Temperature, daylight, weight of the female are some of the factors that impact the mating season of the Green Tree snakes. A female snake lays anywhere between 6-30 eggs. Once the eggs are laid, it wraps its body around them to provide the required warmth. The young ones come out within 45 to 52 days of the depositing of the eggs. The hatchlings measure about 11 to 14 inches and change their color from yellow to green in 6-8 months. The males are comparatively more aggressive during the mating season a female while they are protecting their eggs.
The population of the Green Tree Snake is on the decline mainly due to its habitat being destroyed. This destruction is due to deforestation which clears their habitat rendering them homeless. They are also hunted by the New Guinea Indigenous for food. Despite all this, the IUCN lists the Green Tree Snakes as “Least Concern”.
To Sum Up
Green Tree Snakes are arboreal in nature venturing on the ground only occasionally. Their body is strikingly green with a diamond-shaped head. They are mostly found in various parts of Australia and New Guinea. Carnivorous like other reptiles, they survive on small rodents, tree lizards, fish etc . Their mating season lasts from August until December.
The green emerald green color that they are known for comes 6-8 months after the eggs are hatched. They are slender to look at and their venom is not dangerous to humans. Conservation-wise, Green Tree snakes are classified as non endangered species according to IUCN even after their rapid decline.
Green Tree Snakes are an essential part of the ecology of their habitat. They need all the help to help them to keep themselves from being extinct. Many a time they are hunted for their skin that’s used for making high-end products. Avoid purchasing animal skin products and contribute your bit to saving them. Use the three Rs- reduce, reuse, and recycle to help protect their habitat and help them live.