Emerald Tree Boa: Species Profile and Care Guide

| Updated: September 20, 2023
Emerald tree boa

This snake is one of the most beautiful and distinctive reptiles in the world, with its brilliant emerald green color and striking white markings. But before you decide to get one as a pet, you should know some facts about this amazing animal and how to care for it properly.

What is an Emerald Tree Boa?

The emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus) is a species of non-venomous snake that belongs to the family Boidae, which includes boas, pythons, and anacondas. It is native to the rainforests of South America, especially in the Amazon River basin and the Guiana Shield. It can be found in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.

The emerald tree boa is an arboreal snake, which means it spends most of its time in the trees. It has a long and slender body that can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length, although the average size is about 4 feet (1.2 meters). It has a triangular head with large eyes and heat-sensing pits on its snout. It has a prehensile tail that helps it grip tree branches and hang upside down.

The most striking feature of the emerald tree boa is its color pattern. It has a bright green background color that can vary from light to dark shades. It also has irregular white or yellow bands or spots along its body that contrast with the green. Some individuals may have more or less markings than others. The belly is usually yellow or cream-colored.

The emerald tree boa is often confused with another species of snake, the green tree python (Morelia viridis), which has a similar appearance and lifestyle. However, these two snakes are not closely related and belong to different families. They are an example of convergent evolution, which means they have evolved similar traits independently due to living in similar environments.

Some of the physical differences between the emerald tree boa and the green tree python are:

  • The emerald tree boa has larger scales on its snout than the green tree python.
  • The emerald tree boa has more teeth than the green tree python.
  • The emerald tree boa has a longer tail than the green tree python.
  • The emerald tree boa has a more variable color pattern than the green tree python.

Species Overview

Scientific Name
Corallus caninus
Common Names
Emerald Tree Boa, Emerald Boa, Green Tree Boa
South America
Adult Size
4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters)
Life Expectancy
15 to 20 years
Moderate to High
Minimum Tank Size
4 x 2 x 3 feet (1.2 x 0.6 x 0.9 meters)
Captive Breedable

How Does an Emerald Tree Boa Hunt?

The emerald tree boa is a nocturnal snake, which means it is active at night. It is also an ambush predator, which means it waits patiently for its prey to come within striking distance. It usually coils around a branch with its head facing downward and its mouth open slightly. When it detects a potential prey item, such as a rodent, bird, lizard, or bat, it strikes quickly and grabs it with its sharp teeth. It then wraps its body around the prey and squeezes it until it suffocates. It then swallows it whole, starting with the head.

The emerald tree boa has some adaptations that help it hunt in the dark and in the trees. For example:

  • It has large eyes that can see well in low-light conditions.
  • It has heat-sensing pits on its snout that can detect the body heat of warm-blooded animals.
  • It has a flexible jaw that can stretch to accommodate large prey items.
  • It has a prehensile tail that can support its weight while hanging from a branch.
Emerald tree boa

How Does an Emerald Tree Boa Reproduce?

The emerald tree boa is an ovoviviparous snake, which means it gives birth to live young instead of laying eggs. This is an adaptation to living in a humid and wet environment where eggs could be vulnerable to predators or fungal infections.

The breeding season for the emerald tree boa occurs between September and November in the wild. The males will compete for access to females by wrestling with each other using their tails. The females will then mate with one or more males during this period.

The gestation period for the emerald tree boa lasts about 6 to 8 months. During this time, the female will remain coiled around a branch and bask in the sun to provide warmth for her developing offspring. She will also stop eating during this time to avoid regurgitating her food.

The female will give birth to 6 to 14 baby boas in a single litter. The newborns are about 18 inches (45 centimeters) long and have a reddish-brown color with white markings. After a few days, they will shed their skin for the first time and gradually change their color to green over several months.

The mother will not provide any parental care for her offspring and will leave them shortly after birth. The young boas will have to fend for themselves and find their own food and shelter.

What is the Conservation Status of the Emerald Tree Boa?

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists the emerald tree boa as Least Concern. This means that it is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the near future. However, this does not mean that it is free from threats or challenges.

Some of the factors that could affect the population status of the emerald tree boa are:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation due to deforestation, agriculture, mining, logging, and urbanization.
  • Illegal hunting and poaching for their skins or for the pet trade.
  • Predation by natural enemies such as eagles, hawks, monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, and humans.
  • Diseases and parasites that could affect their health and survival.

Therefore, protecting and conserving the natural habitats of the emerald tree boa and other wildlife that share them is important. It is also important to educate people about these snakes’ ecological role and value and discourage them from killing or capturing them for unnecessary reasons.

Are Emerald Tree Boas Good Pets?

Emerald tree boas can make awesome pets for the right person. They are incredibly fun to watch and, IMO beautiful living works of art. But they are not recommended for beginners or casual pet owners. They are best suited for experienced and dedicated snake enthusiasts who have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to providing them with proper care and husbandry.

Some of the reasons why emerald tree boas are challenging pets are:

  • They have specific environmental requirements that need to be met in captivity. They need a large enclosure with high humidity (70% to 80%), moderate temperature (75°F to 85°F), adequate ventilation, lighting (12 hours of daylight), hiding places (such as hollow logs or cork bark), climbing branches (such as bamboo or grapevine), water bowl (large enough for soaking), substrate (such as cypress mulch or sphagnum moss), and decorations (such as live plants or artificial vines).
  • They can be extremely finicky eaters compared to other common pet snakes. Depending on their size and age, they need to be fed live or preferably pre-killed rodents (such as mice or rats) every 10 to 14 days. They should not be overfed or underfed as this could cause health problems such as obesity or starvation.
  • They have complex behavioral needs that need to be respected in captivity. They are solitary animals that do not tolerate handling well. They can become stressed or aggressive if disturbed too often or too roughly. They can also bite or constrict if threatened or provoked.
  • They have long lifespans that need to be considered in captivity. They can live up to 20 years or more in captivity if cared for properly. Making them a long-term commitment requiring constant attention and maintenance.

Therefore, if you are interested in owning an emerald tree boa as a pet, you should do your research beforehand and make sure you are prepared for what it entails. You should also obtain your snake from a reputable breeder or rescue organization rather than from illegal sources or wild-caught specimens.

Emerald tree boa

Care Guide for Emerald Tree Boas

If you are planning to keep an emerald tree boa as a pet, you should follow these basic guidelines to ensure its health and happiness:

  • Provide a spacious and secure enclosure that mimics its natural habitat. The enclosure should be at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) long, 2 feet (0.6 meters) wide, and 3 feet (0.9 meters) high. It should have a lockable lid or door to prevent escape or intrusion. It should also have proper ventilation to prevent mold or fungus growth.
  • Furnish the enclosure with a suitable substrate, hiding places, climbing branches, a water bowl, and decorations. The substrate should be moist but not wet, such as cypress mulch or sphagnum moss. The hiding places, such as hollow logs or cork bark, should be dark and snug. The climbing branches, such as bamboo or grapevine, should be sturdy and stable. The water bowl should be large enough for soaking and changed daily. The decorations should be natural or artificial plants or vines that provide cover and enrichment.
  • Maintain the enclosure with optimal temperature, humidity, lighting, and cleanliness. The temperature should range from 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C) with a slight drop at night. The humidity should be between 70% to 80%, with regular misting or fogging. The lighting should mimic the natural day and night cycle with 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. The enclosure should be spot-cleaned daily and thoroughly cleaned monthly.
  • Feed the snake with appropriate prey items every 10 to 14 days, depending on size and age. The prey items should be live or pre-killed rodents (such as mice or rats) that are slightly larger than the snake’s head. The prey items should be offered using tongs or gloves at night to avoid being bitten. The snake should not be fed more than once a week or less than once a month, as this could cause obesity or starvation.
  • Handle the snake with care and caution only when necessary. The snake should be handled gently and firmly using both hands to support its body. The snake should not be handled too often or too roughly, as this could cause stress or aggression. The snake should also not be handled after feeding, during shedding, during the breeding season, or when it is sick or injured, as this could cause regurgitation, infection, or injury.
  • Monitor the snake’s health and behavior regularly and seek veterinary attention if needed. The snake should be checked for signs of illness or injury, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, dehydration, respiratory problems, skin problems, parasites, wounds, etc. The snake should also be checked for signs of normal behavior, such as activity, curiosity, hunting, shedding, etc. If the snake shows any abnormal signs, it should be taken to a qualified reptile veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

By following these care guidelines, you can provide your emerald tree boa with a comfortable and stimulating environment that meets its physical and psychological needs. You can also enjoy watching and learning from this magnificent creature that is truly a jewel of the Amazon.

Common Health Concerns

What are Some Interesting Facts About Emerald Tree Boas?

Here are some fun facts about emerald tree boas that you might not know:

  • The scientific name of the emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus) means “coral dog” in Latin. This refers to its coral-like color pattern and its dog-like teeth.
  • The emerald tree boa has an interesting body language that communicates its mood or intention. For example:
    • When it is relaxed or sleeping, it coils loosely around a branch with its head resting on top of its body.
    • When it is alert or hunting, it coils tightly around a branch with its head facing downward and its mouth slightly open.
    • When it is defensive or aggressive, it flattens its neck and raises its head above its body while hissing loudly.
    • When it is courting or mating, it rubs its chin on the female’s body while flicking its tongue rapidly.
  • Emerald tree boas have the longest teeth of any non-venomous snake.


Emerald tree boas are truly remarkable creatures that captivate and inspire us with their beauty, diversity, and adaptation. They are one of the most exquisite and distinctive snakes in the world, with their brilliant emerald green color and striking white markings. They are also one of the most fascinating and complex snakes in the world, with their nocturnal and arboreal lifestyle and their ovoviviparous reproduction.

More Snakes

If you’re interested in learning about other snake species, check out:

Or browse our entire snake collection!


Are emerald tree boas venomous?

No, emerald tree boas are not venomous. Nonvenomous constrictors kill their prey by suffocating them with their powerful coils. However, they have sharp teeth that can inflict painful bites if threatened or provoked.

Are emerald tree boas good pets?

Emerald tree boas can make for a really cool and fun pet. But they are not a good option for beginners or casual snake keepers.

Do emerald tree boa bites hurt?

Yes, emerald tree boa bites can hurt. They have the largest teeth seen in non-venomous snakes; they are also recurved and can easily pierce the skin, causing bleeding and bruising.

Do emerald tree boas like to be handled?

Yes and no, northern emerald tree boas do not like to be handled much at all; they aren’t very trusting. The Amazon Basin emerald tree boa is more docile and can often be handled during the day.

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Shayna Easton
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