Backyard Buddies
Green Tree Snake

Photo: Oliver Neuman

Green Tree Snake

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The Green or Common Tree Snake is one of the most commonly seen snakes in suburban backyards, parks, and even inner city gardens. It lives in northern and eastern Australia.

Green Tree Snakes have no fangs and no venom. They are very reluctant to bite and would rather slither away. If provoked, a Green Tree Snake will rise up, inflate its throat and body, and make a stink from its anal glands - so best not to get too close.

Look out for Green Tree Snakes sunbathing on rocks, windowsills, fences, on outdoor furniture, climbing on the beams or railings of the veranda, pergola, shed or garage. They are fast climbers that spend most of their time up in the trees, though they do come down to the ground to hunt.

Mainly active during the day, Green Tree Snakes eat frogs, skinks, geckos, lizards, reptile eggs, small mammals, stranded tadpoles and fish, and even the occasional water skink if they can catch them. They are active hunters and sniff out their prey as they probe leaves and loose soil with their heads.

Green Tree Snakes are very inquisitive and will have a good look at you if you spot it in the garden. They have large eyes and keen eyesight. It can camouflage itself amongst tree branches where it often looks like a branch, but also amongst leaves, plants and leaf litter. Its colour varies from grey to olive-green in NSW and most of QLD, dark brown, black or blue in northern QLD, golden yellow with a bluish head in the NT. The skin between the scales is light blue.

At night the Green Tree Snake sleeps in tree hollows, rock crevices, narrow caves or abandoned buildings. During winter, groups of snakes congregate together to conserve heat.

Did you know?

Snake skin is not slimy. It is dry and is made up of keratin, which is the same material that makes up human hair and fingernails.

Tip

Not everything that slithers in the garden is a snake. Harmless lizards like Blue-tongued or Pink-tongued Skinks are often mistaken for snakes. They move in a snake-like manner with their legs held tightly against their sides. If you see a scaly body slithering through the leaf-litter, go to a safe spot where you can watch it for a while, and you may discover that you don't have a snake visitor at all.

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Photo: OEH