chondro_with_water_drops

Green tree python (chondros) were once considered very difficult to keep in captivity.  However, once the species became more widespread and captive breeding practices became more successful, better husbandry techniques were developed to the point where the “formula” for keeping chondros is well documented and relatively easy to accommodate.

While the husbandry techniques are somewhat simple, chondros can be an expensive species to maintain properly.  They do require some specialized equipment, and commercially built caging suitable for chondros is pricey.  I will make several references in these husbandry notes for both the commercial option as well as the “homemade” equivalent for those budget-minded keepers like myself.

Chondro husbandry can be divided into three categories:  hatchlings, juveniles and adults.  The care and housing in each age group are similar, but the needs of the animals change slightly as they mature.

   

Caging – a plastic shoe box size tub is actually ideal and the least expensive.  Keepers with large groups of animals will keep babies in these tubs, and keep the tubs in custom “bookshelf” style racks where the tub fits snugly between shelves without their lids, and the upper shelf becomes the “ceiling” of the tub.  Glass cages with screen tops are problematic for multiple reasons.  They are difficult to heat, they don’t hold humidity well, and they so large they require lots of hide decorations to make the chondro feel secure which defeats the purpose of a display cage.  The small tub makes them feel very secure since they cannot see out and feel exposed.


Temps – 80-85 deg F., with no night drop.  Babies and juvies tend to do better with stable constant temperatures.


Heating – heat tape (flex watt) or heat bulbs can be used.  Be sure to invest in a good proportional thermostat controller.  Helix or Spyder Robotics are widely used brands.


Lighting – 12 hours on, 12 hours off, ideally on a regular timer.  Direct light isn’t necessary, which is nice because small cages are generally prohibitive to in-cage lighting.


Perches – plastics are best, but wood will be OK.  Care should be taken to let wooden perches dry completely for several hours each day if misting is done daily to discourage mildew.


Substrate material – paper towel or newspaper.  Paper substrate is inexpensive and easy to maintain.  Anything that holds too much moisture or doesn’t get replaced weekly (such as mulch) is a poor choice for chondros this young.

Caging – plastic tubs are still ideal for juvies, however most will do OK in a small display cage.  Be sure to decorate the cage with plastic or silk vines for hiding purposes.  Certainly live plants can be used by those capable of keeping them alive.


Temps – 80-86 deg F., with little to no night drop.  Babies and juvies tend to do better with stable constant temperatures.


Heating – heat tape (flex watt) or heat bulbs can be used for tubs, and bulbs or heat panels in display cages.  Be sure to invest in a good proportional thermostat controller.  Helix or Spyder Robotics are widely used brands.


Lighting – 12 hours on, 12 hours off, ideally on a regular timer.  Direct light isn’t necessary.


Perches – plastics are best, but wood will be OK.  Care should be taken to let wooden perches dry completely for several hours each day if misting is done daily to discourage mildew.


Substrate material – Newspaper or mulch.  Paper substrate is inexpensive and easy to maintain.  When using mulch, coconut husk variety is best.  Paper towels should be avoided.  Over zealous feeding responses could result in the chondro striking/wrapping/swallowing some portion of paper towel which can actually be fatal.

Caging – Adults are best housed in a larger caging appropriate for display.  While it is easy to think that chondros need lots of vertical space, that is not true.  A length to height ratio of 2 to 1 is ideal.  Cages that are too tall can be difficult to heat properly, and I have found that extra height to be generally unnecessary.  I keep my adults in cages that are about 20″ square on the ends, and 32″ long.


Temps – 78-87 deg F., with night drop.  Adults like to have a range (gradient) of temperatures within the cage so they can thermoregulate themselves.  The basking zone on the warm side of the cage should be 86-87 deg F, with the cool side being around 78-80 deg F.  I keep a gentle night drop of 4 degrees in place for 7 months of the year, and the remaining 5 months (breeding season) I extend that to 8 degrees using a full month to decrease/increase by 1 degree per week.


Heating – Radiant heat panels are recommended, but heat bulbs can also be used.  Be sure to invest in a good proportional thermostat controller.  Helix or Spyder Robotics are widely used brands.


Lighting – 12 hours on, 12 hours off, ideally on a regular timer.  Direct light isn’t necessary.  During the 5 months when the lower night drop is in place, I shorten the daytime period to 10 hours and extend the dark period to 14 hours.  This helps to trigger the breeding activities.


Perches – Plastic is good, but wood is often selected for display purposes.  Care should be taken to let wooden perches dry completely for several hours each day if misting is done daily to discourage mildew.  In larger display cages, I use actual tree branches.  The branches from some variety of trees can be toxic, so do some research here.  If you can collect from live trees, those are best.  If not, the branches could be sealed with a polyurethane sealer to preserve the wood and discourage the mildew.


Substrate material – Newspaper or mulch.  Paper substrate is inexpensive and easy to maintain.  When using mulch, coconut husk variety is best.  Paper towels should be avoided.  Over zealous feeding responses could result in the chondro striking/wrapping/swallowing some portion of paper towel which can actually be fatal.  Mulch is nice to look at and holds humidity well, but has its drawbacks.  Chondros can end up with a mouthful of mulch when feeding which can lead to mouth infections.  Plus it has to be fully changed out periodically and I’m a lazy person.  I opt for newspaper.