Emerald Tree Boa
Other tree boas and names: (Emerald boa, Amazon tree boa, Cook’s tree boa, Northern tree boa…)
The Emerald Tree Boa is an unmistakable and beautiful snake. They have a fearsome reputation amongst some herpetoculturists as an agressive and difficult to keep snake. While it is true that these snakes have large teeth, and are prepared to use them in angst, their reputation makes them out to be somewhat more agressive than they really are. They are certainly not a snake to be handled. If you want a snake which you can touch and hold get a common boa, but if you want a magnificent display snake, and are prepared to ensure that you meet the emerald boa’s specific needs, you’ll be rewarded with a superb and fascinating pet.
Adult Emerald boas grow to around 6 feet (2m) in length. They do have particularly large front teeth, significantly larger than those of most non-venemous snakes, and a long reach, so don’t be fooled by their relatively small size. Neonates vary from light to dark oranges and reds which change to the typical emerald green as the snake matures. Unlike with the superficially similar green tree python, juvenile emerald boas are never yellow.
There is constant debate about exact subspecies taxonomy as there are a number of distinct geographical morphs. Those from the Amazon basin tend to grow longer (up to 9 feet) and tend to be more docile than others.
Emerald boas have particularly slow metabolisms, and as such require less feeding than other boas of similar size. A single prey item approximately every 21 days is fine for an adult, while neonates should be fed every 12 – 14 days. The prey item should always be smaller than the girth of the snake. These boas do not defecate after every feed, but care should be taken that they do defecate after every 3 meals, otherwise delay the next meal. Most specimens will take defrosted prey without a problem, but some might need a little persuasion!
As these are highly aboreal snakes they require an enclosure suitable for climbing. They will spend much of their time coiled on a branch so suitable perches must be made available. They are also very sensitive to humidity and temperature, and require adequate ventilation. 78 – 82 F should be maintained at night, rising to 85 – 90 during the day, with a proper themal gradient. Humidity should cycle throughout the day from a high of 65 – 80% to a night low of around 50%. This can be done my misting the enclosure. Care should be taken to ensure that the humidity doesn’t stay permenantly too high and that cages are kept especially clean to prevent mold and fungal growth.
Handling your Emerald Boa
As already stated, these are not animals to be handled. If you want an arboreal boa which is more tolerant to handling then the Brazilian Rainbow Boa might be a better choice. When the snake does need to be handled, for enclosure cleaning for example, they can normally be gently uncoiled from their perch with a snake hook. Once off the perch, most emerald boas will hold on to the hook (rather than you having to hold the snake!)