Care Guide and General Information
The emerald tree boa (Cornallus caninus) is an amazing sight to behold. These are stunning creatures coming from the Amazon, and other parts of South America. There are two varieties of emerald tree boas, the Suriname and the Amazonian. Both varieties come from South America, and there are small differences. Emerald tree boas are a bit of a challenge, but in the end, very much worth it.
Their glossy green scales dotted with white and yellow pigments keep your eyes hooked. They have keen eyes on top a triangular head, followed by a 6-7 foot long body. Depending on the type, lengths may vary slightly. Like most reptiles, these snakes will live to be 20 years with the right care, and no problems occur along the way.
Amazonian emerald tree boas seem to tolerate and except handling more than their close relatives. Some boas may enjoy handling, while others will bite, snap, and lunge at you. Most of it deals with two factors. Whether it is wild caught, or if it had been mistreated earlier on in life. If you receive a captive bred hatchling and start to slowly introduce your smell, you will have a better chance of positive experiences handling. Some emerald tree boas simply have a nasty temper, and should be a look-not-touch reptile.
Give the snake 36 hours after feeding to digest so regurgitation does not occur. Also be sure never to grab or wake a snake because that will put it into defensive mode.
Emerald tree boas do not need to be fed as much as many other snakes because they have a relatively slow metabolism. Feed a baby emerald tree boa once every 11-14 days, and adults once every 3 weeks. Most boas will not run on a schedule, or they will create their own. You must be flexible with this because each snake is different.
Prey items should make a small lump in a snake when consumed, or be about equal of the diameter of the snake. A meal too small will starve them, and a meal too large may be regurgitated. Mice and small rats are the common replacement to lizards and rodents that they ingest in the wild.
Regurgitation is a big problem for emerald tree boas, and if it starts it can turn into a bad habit. This is what makes some emerald tree boas so difficult to keep. Just make sure you are giving proper portions and feeding at the right times.
Emerald tree boas will spend much of their time up in a tree or on a branch. This makes height much more important than length in an enclosure. A screen lid that allows air flow, but keeps the boa in is required.
Remember emerald tree boas love fresh air, but be sure to balance air with humidity. Plenty of sturdy branches should be available for them to curl around. These branches and logs should be at least as thick as the snake itself, if not thicker. Foliage will help them feel protected and safe.
A 20-30 gallon tank works fine for a single adult. Hatchlings can stay in smaller cages about 2-5 gallons. Cage size should increase as the tree boa does.
Since emerald tree boas are semi-arboreal, substrates main purpose is to capture and release moisture since they will not spend much time on it. A simple substrate of paper towels works the best because they are easy to replace, and will not harvest bacteria. Other, more natural substrates like cypress mulch and non-fertilized potting soil can also be used.
As long as you provide enough leaf cover, and at least one strong, sturdy branch a hide box is not needed.
Reptiles are ectotherms, or cold blooded so proper temperatures are vital. An emerald tree boa likes temperatures between 74-82Â°F a week after feeding until the next feeding. The day of feeding and the next week, the temperature should be kept at 82-84 to aid in digestion. Temperatures can drop 10Â°F at night. Keep a thermometer in the tank to be sure of the temperatures, and never guess.
A heat lamp should be used, not a heating pad because heating pads only heat the tank. Emerald tree boas heat needs to be the air temperature, and a heat emitter or bulb works well. A 12 hour photo-period should be established for this species. Be sure never to use hot rocks because they may burn scales.
Coming from the Amazon, emerald tree boas like it humid. 60-90% humidity should be maintained, and can drop slightly at night. Automatic misting systems can be used, or simply spraying down the cage two or three times a day. A hydrometer helps a lot to determine proper humidity. Even though they need high humidity, you should let the cage dry out at night so bacteria or mildew does not develop.
If a water bowl is provided, they will use it. Emerald tree boas prefer drinking out of a bowl instead of licking droplets off of a leaf. This water bowl should be large so the snake notices it.
Be sure to replace substrates when needed, and clean out the entire cage with 5% bleach every 2-3 months. Spot clean daily.
Before introducing a male and a female, and hoping for some babies, there are certain things you must do. Be sure you are comfortable caring for this species, and you have two fully mature snakes.
The first thing to do in October is to raise the humidity slightly during the day for both the male and the female. It should be in the high 80'sÂ°F. At night, the humidity should drop to 50%. Make sure the cage gets a chance to dry out every night or else mold and fungus will begin to grow. This will help get them in the mood.
Keep this up until they have successfully mated. After a couple of weeks, you can be pretty sure they mated because they may do it at night, or when you are away. Once you are certain they have done their stuff, separate them.
After 220-250 days live young will be born. They will be about two feet long, and up to 7 may be born. These babies should be separated from the mom because after a couple of hours the mom will forget they are her children, and start eating them if she is hungry enough.
Breeding is fairly easy, but be sure you can care for all of your new snakes. Hatchlings can be fun, jittery and amusing.
After a week or two, or after their first shed babies will start eating. A pinkie mouse can be fed to them every 12 days. Some may need to be force fed, and some may refuse to eat at all, and die. Be sure to monitor each of them separately so you can get them eating regularly.
In the rest of the care guide above, adult and hatchling care should be mostly the same.
Emerald tree boas like high humidity, plenty of fresh air, and high temperatures. They are a wonderful species to own as long as you care for it properly. Emerald tree boas are beautiful, interesting creatures. Remember, whenever considering purchasing an animal, always do your homework.
Do you have a passion for reptiles? Or are you just looking to learn more about these amazing creatures? Either way, a subscription to Reptiles Magazine is a great way to stay up-to-date on all the latest news, products, and discoveries in the reptile world. And right now, you can save 74% off the cover price when you click this link to subscribe!
Sean Harper - February 7, 2015
Luis A.Rosado - March 20, 2013
Ed Ortiz - March 17, 2016
i was so excited to receive my ornate tortoises.they came healthy and bright eye w no harm shipping them in 15 degree temps. do not be afraid to order in these temps. i am so happy and satisfied w my order. even w writing they did communicated on the weekend which totally impressed me., thanks so much for my ornates. deborah
Deborah Schmitt - February 6, 2018
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