- Why are they called green tree pythons if they aren’t green?
Many of the wild-locality types of this species are primarily green or at least enough of them are green to have inspired the common name, green tree python. Many of the designer chondros today are mixed-localities that have brought out the unique color combinations hidden within the diverse genetic make-up of these beautiful snakes.
- Why are green tree pythons referred to as chondros?
Their scientific name used to be Chondropython viridis and from that name came the still commonly used knickname “chondro.”
- How long do chondros live?
They can easily live over 20 years.
- Why are chondros so expensive?
In the U.S., chondros have been produced in captivity since the 70’s but they continue to be a species that is not the easiest to reproduce. The time and effort it takes a breeder to successfully produce a well-started neonate can easily be six months from start to finish. From finding a compatible pair (the easiest step) to getting their tiny offspring to eat, each step can be a test of patience. We still do not understand the complex color genetics at work in this species; therefore, one person producing a unique color morph cannot be duplicated quickly or easily by others. Flooding of the market with a particular color morph does not really happen with this species. While values of particular color morphs vary a bit over time, prices usually remain steady for designer morphs.
- Why shouldn't I buy a less expensive farm bred chondro?
The market has been flooded with imported, “farm bred,” neonate chondros and has driven the price down for entry-level, usually locality-type chondros and these lower-priced, imported chondros tempt new owners, often with negative outcomes that deter them from future purchases. While there are exceptions, many of these “farms” are being used to launder illegally caught wild chondros. These farms claim that the chondros they are exporting are captive hatched but a peer reviewed paper in 2011 (Lyons & Natusch) estimated at least 80% of exported chondros from Indonesia were illegally wild caught. Adults that are imported into the U.S. are almost all wild-collected. Do not be fooled. If you choose to purchase from a non-breeder, with few exceptions, you will be getting what you pay for, not to mention you are supporting unsustainable exploitation of wildlife. Keep in mind that these imports cost so much less because little time, effort, and money went into exporting these wild-caught chondros. It is very likely you will pay more in vet bills than you saved by purchasing an import.
- When will Southern Chondros sex a young chondro?
I do not sex young chondros until they are a minimum of one year old and weight at least 100 grams. Some people are comfortable sexing when they are smaller but there is a greater risk of injury unless you have experience with sexing chondros. It is difficult enough sexing adult chondros correctly!
- When do chondros go through their ontogenetic (color) change?
This can vary greatly! Typically, you can look for a young chondro to start their color change as a yearling. I have had some neonates start changing at two months old. Some chondros do not start any major color change until two years old; however, their baby dorsal pattern usually fades and there are subtle changes going on as a yearling.
- Are chondros aggressive?
This is very much like assuming all German Shepherds are mean dogs. Not at all! As with other animals, each chondro behaves differently and reacts to stimuli in their own way. Some react aggressively anytime their cage is invaded but this is the exception and not the most common behavior for this species. Some localities are considered more aggressive or laid-back than others. That said, not all Biak’s are feisty and not all Aru’s are the best chondro in a collection to handle.
I have learned to respect that some of my chondros will never enjoy being handled and I do not stress them out by doing it unless absolutely necessary. Neonate chondros tend to be snappy and quick to bite, but if you were smaller than a pencil, with no arms or legs, after emerging into this strange world you would probably lash out at the giant smiling down at you with those giant teeth and hot hands, too! If you desire a chondro that can be handled a lot then I usually recommend not purchasing a neonate and asking the breeder about the behavior of the chondro.
Most bites from older chondros are received due to the snake thinking it is feeding time or a desire not to be bothered or removed from a perch. Once in hand it is rare for a chondro to decide to turn around and bite, but I still keep the nervous ones away from my warm face when handling, just in case. Chondros are usually content to let you work in their cage during the day. They are very food motivated and may initially mistake your hot hand reaching into their cage as their next meal, so I find that if I have to reach in after dark, a gentle spray with the water sprayer will deter them for a short while from thinking of my hand as food.
- Why is my chondro on the ground?
It could just be a chondro acting like a chondro. Sometimes they do unusual things for no obvious reason. I suggest checking your temperatures on your thermostat and using your temp gun to check their favorite basking spot. Maybe it is too hot or too cool on that perch. Has the interior of the cage changed recently? Consider adding more cover to the highest basking areas. Is the perch size appropriate for your snake? I tend to keep my perches on the smaller side but maybe your chondro needs a different size perch. Does the perch need to be cleaned? Take the opportunity to clean the perch while the snake is grounded. Have you introduced another snake into the cage? It is not unusual for either snake to ground themselves in this situation. Sometimes the stressed snake will stay grounded for a while even after the offending snake is removed. Is your snake alert and moving around at night? If you have considered these questions and fixed any issues that you may have found then I suggest simply keeping an eye on the snake and in a few days or possibly weeks, your snake will return to the perches. If you suspect that your snake is acting unusual in addition to being grounded, please consider contacting your vet.
- Are chondros difficult to keep?
Chondros are more challenging to keep because they have environmental requirements that most of us cannot meet by simply sticking them in a glass aquarium. Unless you live in the more subtropical or tropical areas of the world most of us have to use a source of heat controlled by a thermostat to maintain proper temperatures in their cage year-round. Chondros are sensitive, specifically to changes in their habitat. I highly recommend having an appropriately-sized cage ready for a new chondro set up well ahead of time so you can test out temperature and humidity. Having your cage ready to go will give you a good chance of a happy, healthy chondro that thrives. If you have questions about what size cage you need, please contact me.
- How can I encourage a chondro to defecate if it looks “full”?
I find that my males are sprinkle-defecators and rarely hold onto defecation for long. Some of my females really like to hold onto things and will hang their heavy tail down. Unless the snake has had a prolapse in the past or truly appears to be blocked I usually only encourage a defecation by spraying them gently, but directly, for a long period of time as if imitating a rainstorm. I also encourage drinking by refreshing their water more frequently.
Other things I have tried on occasion, but are more stressful to the snake, include swimming in a bathtub and placing them in the shower while on their perches. I do not let the water temperature go over 85F. Gently handling yearlings and older chondros can be helpful, too. Getting them moving can be helpful.
- What husbandry records do you keep for your chondros?
I keep shed, defecation, and feed records on each snake’s identification card that I keep at each snake’s cage. This is very helpful for those who care for my animals while I am away. There are digital record keeping applications available, too, including free ones like iHerp. I encourage everyone who keeps chondros to at least keep shed and feeding records so you know what is normal for each chondro. This can also be useful information should your chondro ever need to go to the vet.
- Are chondros finicky feeders?
They can be, but a healthy chondro who is not under stress and is content in its cage is usually an enthusiastic feeder. Reasons for going off food include normal male fasting, a female who is gravid, stress, and illness. Chondros are sensitive animals so when stressed their normal behavior may change. These behavior changes can include no interest in food. Stress can come from changes in cage interior, new cage, shipping, new cage location, your moving homes, etc. Some chondros are more easily stressed than others and I have found that older chondros are more likely to stress for a longer period of time or have a drastic, sometime permanent change in personality than neonates. It is not unusual for a neonate shipped to a new owner to stress for a few weeks until it becomes comfortable in its new home and with its new owner. A good breeder can help you through this transition.
- My chondro won’t eat. Can you help me?
I can try and help you but I will really need to hear from you via email with more details about your particular situation. Chondros go off food for a variety of reasons. See answers to other questions in this feeding section. If you have neonate feeding trouble, see my detailed suggestions for this situation within my Neonate Husbandry page and see my troublesome neonate feeding technique videos.