I highly recommend Greg Maxwell’s The More Complete Chondro for anybody interested in green tree pythons, especially for those interested in purchasing a green tree python. This husbandry page is not in-depth and primarily outlines how I house and care for my sub-adult chondros and what works for me. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to contact me directly.
My adults are housed in Greg Maxwell-style cages that I build myself. They are made out of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) with yellow pine fronts. The dimensions are 36″L x 24″H x 24″D.
People choose all types of caging material and house their adults in smaller cages than mine. Choosing a cage that allows you to maintain correct heat, humidity, and provides space to move around is important for a healthy chondro.
I have changed my cage temperature regime over the years, thanks to the input of other knowledgable keepers, because my snakes seemed to be choosing favorite basking spots that did not always allow them to get their body temperatures up to ideal daytime temperatures which, over time, can cause stress and illness. I now maintain an ambient air temperature around 82F (27.8C) by positioning the thermostat probe about halfway down the middle of the back wall of the cage and have moved my heat panels to be centered at the top of the cages. I use a temperature gun to test perch and cage temperatures. I am aiming for the middle of the top perch, which is the warmest basking spot, directly under the heat to be around 88-90 (31.1-32.2C) and either end of the top perch to be around 82 (27.8C). I give them a 5-degree F temperature drop at night. I use both Helix and ProPanel heat panels with Helix or Herpstat thermostat controllers.
I prefer real wood branches in my adults’ cages but I have not had shedding problems using the smoother PVC perches. As with younger chondros, it is best not to go larger in diameter of your branches than the diameter of the snake’s girth. I choose to err on the smaller size for perches as the adults seem to be able to drape very relaxed on their perches.
I use triple-shredded cypress mulch or newspaper as substrate in the bottom of my adult cages. I find the cypress mulch holds humidity well and allows for fast cleanup, but it can be expensive and is not sustainably harvested. Newspaper substrate works well enough but I prefer a more natural substrate.
Humidity and Shedding
I spray down the substrate in my adult chondro cages once a week and run a humidifier in the room during the drier winter months. I do not usually spray the adult chondros directly unless they are in shed and, even then, only the ones who have a habit of bad sheds. Hydration is vitally important during the shed cycle in order to get a complete shed. Some chondros are not good drinkers and I have found that spraying them during their shed cycle encourages drinking and improves their sheds. While chondros do not seem to enjoy being sprayed directly, very often they will drink from the water droplets on their body. Some people spray their chondros regularly to encourage drinking and defecation. Do keep in mind it does lower the snake’s body temperature several degrees so make sure they have adequate access to heat afterwards.
Some adult chondros enjoy wading in their water bowls. They usually enjoy larger-sized bowls, but keep in mind that they need to have fresh, clean water often. It is not unusual to observe adult chondros stretching straight down to their water bowl a few minutes after the lights go out.
My adult chondros average a shed every four months or so and typically take about a week and a half to complete a shed cycle.
I feed my adults every 10-14 days. They will beg for food more often than this but a fat chondro is not a healthy chondro. I feed rats or mice depending on the snake’s preference and size. I try to feed a meal that leaves a noticeable lump for a day or two. It is important to increase the snake’s meal size as needed to develop jaw muscles so you do not end up with a large-bodied snake with a small head.
Male chondros can start going off food for months at a time starting about the time they begin to reach maturity. It is not unusual for my males to go off food for six months out of the year. Monitor their weight and activity level but do not worry too much because they typically go back on food when they are ready. Sometimes offering fresh-killed prey or mice instead of rats (or vice versa) will help encourage them back onto food. I also have a male that will start back on food by eating during the day for his first feed after a fast. Sometimes chondros go off food and refuse to start eating again. I recommending seeking a vet’s opinion if you suspect something unusual, but sometimes chondros have to be “reminded” to eat and assist feeding a small meal is enough to jump-start their digestive system and get them eating on their own again.
Defecation and Cleaning
My adults defecate on average every three to five weeks. Adults do not defecate after each meal and a keeper should not wait to feed an adult chondro until after a defecation. I will skip or delay a meal if they appear “full” near their cloaca and need to defecate. It is normal to occasionally see teeth shed in feces.
In the cages with paper substrate I use regular dish soap and water to clean the bottom of the cage. Cypress mulch cages I will spot clean and then do a complete cage disinfection every six months. I use regular dish soap to clean all water bowls. I avoid the uses of harsh chemicals like bleach or ammonia unless I am disinfecting the cage for a new snake.
Chondro Behavior and Handling
Sometimes chondros choose to sit on the floor of their cage, so check to make sure your temperatures are correct and that everything else is normal, and then just wait for them to decide to go back up on a perch.
Chondros are sensitive to change so I try not to switch cages on a content adult chondro as this can be a very stressful transition. Chondros do not really like change and stress can lead to health issues.
Chondros are generally laid-back animals and many accept gentle handling during the day, but as a general rule, chondros prefer to be observed rather than handled. Observe the behavior of your chondro and if it does not appear to appreciate being handled then it is not worth the risk of stressing them. If they do not seem to mind the attention then there is no harm in handling them.
Owning one of these beautiful snakes really is a special blessing. They are interactive characters that are a joy to just sit and watch. They deserve the best care possible from their keeper. It is important to know a vet in your area that can help you but you should also educate yourself in case your vet does not have much hands-on experience specifically with chondros. Chondros are sensitive animals and can stress easily and come down quickly with an illness so spend time learning what is normal for your snake. Take the time to set your chondros up properly with the right equipment and you should have many years of enjoyment with your chondros. Yes, I said chondros plural because you can’t have just one!