Snakes: Growing Towards Green

Parque Reptilandia near to Dominical houses various species of boas and pythons. Two of the most beautiful ones are the Amazon Basin emerald tree boa (Corallus batesii) and the Green tree python (Morelia viridis) from New Guinea, Indonesia and Cape York Peninsula in Australia. Both species are highly adapted to an arboreal life in rainforests. These snakes are non-venomous but they do have very large teeth, larger than those of the average constrictors. These tools help them to grab birds, bats, lizards, and rodents. Immediately after the prey is wrapped in their body coils and constricted. The snakes have a prehensile tail that allows them to feed in the trees. The prey is detected by their heat-sensitive pits, or labial pits, in their lips. This is a big advantage for these nocturnal reptiles.

Breeding also occurs above the forest floor. The difference is that boas give birth to live young, called viviparous. The pythons, which are oviparous, lay eggs and need to find a nesting site. The mother will coil around the eggs to protect them and brood them. She can raise the temperature by shivering her body. They can lay up to 30 eggs and it can take them up to 60 days to hatch. The hatchlings of the same clutch can be red or yellow. The babies of the Emerald tree boas are all red and born after 5 to 6 months. The faster they grow the more they change their color. After 1 year they all turned into green little jewels. It is called ontogenetic color change.

Both of these magnificent snake species have a specific way of resting. They loop a few coils around the branches and place their heads in the middle. Nice way to hang around in the treetops!

By Roel de Plecker

CONTACT: Roel de Plecker – Reptilandia

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