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Emerald Tree Boa - Corallus caninus

The emerald tree boa comes from Northern South America: from Venezuela, Brazil to Northern Bolivia. Emerald tree boas are interesting snakes to watch. When they are coiled up on a branch they remind me of a true primeval snake. They are not easy pets, they are difficult to keep and are expensive. They do not like being held or played with. They are primarily nocturnal. The emerald tree boa is best kept by experienced hobbyists. For a fantastic article on emerald tree boas go to: Identification and Husbandry of Amazon Basin Emerald Tree Boas by Stan Chiras


Average Size - The emerald tree boa grows to be about 7 feet to 9 feet long.

Life Span - Recorded only in captivity: estimated 15 to 25 years

Diet - In captivity they feed mainly on mice and small rats. In the wild they have been observed taking birds and although that is natural prey to the emerald tree boa, I personally would not feed a bird. Rodents are easier to feed to your boa.

Feeding - Feed young emerald tree boas once a week . Adults can be fed every other week. 

Housing - The tank/cage should ultimately be a roughly four feet long, 34 - 36 inches tall, and 32 inches deep. For a snake that will grow almost 8 feet long and like to climb, an enclosure this size is appropriate. These snakes need secure screened tops.

Substrate - Reptile bark can be purchased in pet stores, either paper towels or newspaper can be used. Coconut fiber can also be used. It clumps easily and is easy to change. Astroturf can be used. Make sure you cut it in sections when setting up the enclosure. It will make cleaning and replacing worn out pieces easy.

Habitat - They spend much of the time in the branches so make sure the enclosure has hight. Set a branch-level watering cup (because they will drink from it) and several branches with different sizes (thickness and length) from which your emerald tree boa can choose. You can also add a hide box on a shelf off the enclosure floor for a secure place for your snake to go to. This type of enclosure would work well with live plants.

Temperature - The optimum temperature range for emerald tree boas is 82 degrees Fahrenheit for daytime and night time temperature of approximately 75 degrees. Temperatures can be regulated via incandescent light bulbs, ceramic heaters or under tank heaters/heating pads. Ceramic heaters will work best since the snake will be up off the cage floor but make sure there is enough space between the heater and the snake so that it cannot get burned. 

Humidity - Anywhere from 65% at night is good, while 80% or more during the day is adequate. Quality waterproof cages are a must when striving to reach these humidity levels. Mist your pet several times a day making sure you spray plants, cage and substrate - this will help keep the humidity levels up as the water dissipates into the air. Make sure that fungus, molds or rot do not take hold.

Lighting - No special lighting is needed. These Boas are typically nocturnal snakes, spending their days in the wild securely hidden away from possible predators. To make it easier to see your Boa during the day, you can use a full-spectrum light or low wattage incandescent bulb in the enclosure during the day. Make sure the snake cannot get into direct contact with the light bulbs. It is important maintain a regular day/night cycle set at 12 hours day and 12 hours night.

Water - Set a branch-level watering cup (because they will drink from it).

Normal Behavior and Interaction - The emerald tree boa is primarily nocturnal. They will spend much of the day hanging in the picturesque coiled pattern.  

Like other boas, the emerald tree boa is a live bearing snake. The young are born nearly 10 inches to 12 inches long.

Healthy animals typically will "hang" around - look for tight, orderly coils which represent a comfortable snake. Conversely, loose coils can be symptoms of discomfort or a snake that could be getting sick. If you want to watch your emerald tree boa eat - set up red night lights, as they hunt they will not be disturbed.

Emeralds are entirely arboreal, living from just above the forest floor to high in the canopy

Recommended Supplies:

  • Habitat with secure lid
  • Thermometer
  • Misting bottle
  • Humidity gauge
  • Book about emerald tree boas
  • Light timer
  • Substrate
  • Hide box or driftwood
  • Water dish
  • Undertank heat source
  • Incandescent light or ceramic heater
  • Cage furniture - branches, plants etc.
Normal  Behavior and Interaction  As snake gets ready to shed, its eyes will turn a milky blue over the course of a few days and body color will start to dull and develop a whitish sheen. Its appetite may diminish during this period.

Habitat Maintenance Change water daily, clean droppings. Thoroughly clean the tank at least once week: set snake aside in a secure habitat - a snake/reptile bag works well; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach; dry the tank and furnishings; and add clean substrate

Grooming and Hygiene Boa's will regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow your snake to shed properly. To facilitate shedding, bathe snake in a large container that allows snake to immerse its entire body Always wash your hands before and after touching your snake or habitat contents to help prevent Salmonella and other infectious diseases
Signs of a Healthy Pet:  

  • Clear eyes (except when shedding)
  • Clear nose and mouth
  • Body is rounded and full
  • Active and alert
  • Eats regularly
  • Healthy skin
Common Health Issues and Red Flags:

  • Wrinkled or rubbed skin
  • Vomiting
  • Discharge in nose or mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Abnormal feces or urine
  • Decreased appetite
If you notice any of these signs, please contact your exotic animal veterinarian.

As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical. The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area.

Even this guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet.

Page Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 21:25 EST
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