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The Common Tree Snake Dendrelaphis punctulata (also called Green Tree Snake and Australian Tree Snake) is a slender, large-eyed, mildly venomous (essentially harmless to humans), diurnal snake found in many parts of Australia, especially in the northern and eastern coastal areas, and into Papua New Guinea.

This common snake is harmless, readily recognised as it is an agile snake with a very slender head, body and tail. The body colour varies from green to olive-green to black dorsally in some parts of Queensland. They often have a pale to bright yellow throat and belly but other pale colours have been noted, with blue visible between the scales, especially anteriorly when agitated. Eyes are larger than in most snakes. Found in a variety of habitats ranging from rainforest to woodland and also inhabits some urban areas, where it preys on fish, frogs and small animals.


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[top]Range and Habitat

All over the north and east coast, ranging from just east of Broome WA to north of Canberra. Colour forms differ from place to place, but are not restricted i.e you could get a green phase in NT.
  • Golden Phase: Northern Territory
  • Black and Yellow: North Queensland
  • Green Phase: South-East Queensland
  • Blue: Far North Queensland and SEQ
  • Hyper Melanistic: Townsville and some islands situated nearby, such as Magnetic Island.

Common Tree Snakes are dinural and can be found in near wetlands or anywhere with dense tree systems.

[top]Diet and Feeding

Live feeder fish, Asian House Geckos, wall skinks, rodents, quail, poultry necks and strips of meat are all foods sources that have been used to one degree or another. Generally feeding them on rodents is often viewed negatively, especially with young snakes. In the wild these snakes naturally eat fish, frogs and small lizards and some believe that young Tree Snakes digestive systems cannot handle the amount of protein and iron that rodents will deliver. That being said, some feeder fish should be avoided for various reasons. Feeder goldfish should be an irregular food source due to high levels of an enzyme called thiaminase, which can lead to thiamine deficiency. Fish that have large, sharp or protruding fins should be avoided at all cost.

Some feeder fish that are regularly used are: Gambusia holbrooki (Mosquito Fish, a pest fish common in many water systems), platys, rainbow trout and guppies. These are great for young snakes. Adults can eat live feeder fish, Asian House Geckos, wall skinks, rodents, quail, poultry necks and strips of meat with caution. If fish are used for a primary food source be sure to have a separate bowel for water and fish. Digesting the ammonia and nitrate build up caused by fish can make the water toxic.

These snakes are quit thin in comparison to pythons. Their food source should be no bigger then the size of their head. Due to their fast metabolism and diurnal lifestyle, feeding should occur every 2-3 days. (More food but smaller quantities).


The common tree snake lays eggs — 5 to 12 elongated eggs per clutch. The young snakes shed their skin about every 6 to 8 weeks to accommodate growth, and adults shed their skin once or twice a year. All shed their skin if they are injured. When new skin forms, the snake secretes a milky fluid between the old and new layers of skin. After about two weeks, the snake rubs its snout against a branch or something rough, and the old skin peels back and turns inside out.


For hatchlings and juvis a click clack can be utilized for a small safe environment. Included a water bowl which was full at all times, a few branches and paper towel as substrate. Adults and sub-adults should be housed in height-orientated enclosures. Tree Snakes can reach up to 2m but generally are about 1.2m, they are highly arboreal so an enclosure that was at 1.5m high would suffice. One of the more interesting aspects to Dendrelaphis punctulata is that the more complicated the enclosure is the more they seem to thrive. I've seen enclosures for adult specimens with a labyrinth of branches and plants and ponds with water falls full of fish consequently you must remember to keep the snakes safety in mind.

Tree Snakes occur in a myriad of habitats all over Australia so temperatures can vary but generally can be kept at slightly cooler temperatures then Morelia. Hot spots of 29-31 Celsius with ambient temps for the cool side. Heat mats can be used in click clacks and smaller enclosures and heat elements can used for larger enclosures (keep in mind that they do get to 35 celcius and therefore will need a large enclosure or a thermostat).

Dendrelaphis punctulata are very active and incredibly fast snakes built for climbing, subsequently great care must be taken when handling these snakes, they have been described as "hyper shoe laces". They are also shy and will spy on you from their enclosure and will not strike unless extremely provoked. They are mildly venomous but will not harm humans unless you are VERY unlucky. They have a very inefficient venom delivery system with its teeth being too small. Like other snakes they do shed. As most of them have high contrasting colours you will be able to see them dull easily, their eyes will also become "milky" similar to pythons and elapids. Handling is not recommended during this time and they will be in their hiding spots more than usual.

In the wild these snakes can be found in communal groups. This can be done in captivity with the right amount of space and hiding spots. Several hot spots is recommended. Although they can live together feeding separately is imperative. You don't want a $400+ snake being eaten.

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