Amazon Tree Boa

Category: Wildlife

Once relatively rare in the pet trade, these aggressive tree snakes are becoming more popular in part due to the availability of a variety of colors and patterns. Since they are a snake with long fangs and a short attitude, it is generally only experienced snake keepers who house them. These beautiful constrictors are non-venomous and play an important part in the health of their environment, as all snakes do, helping to keep prey populations in check.

Amazon Tree Boa

Amazon Tree Boa

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Reptilia

Order - Squamata

Suborder - Serpentes

Family – Boidae

Subfamily - Boinae

Genus - Corallus

Species - Corallus hortulanus

Common names - Amazon tree boa, garden tree boa

Characteristics

In the wild, Amazon Tree Boas are found with a variety of mostly muted color patterns, with a base of tan, brown, grey, or black and highlights of yellow, red, or orange. These colors are artificially bred to be more spectacular in captive individuals, which can have impressive color ranges. While individuals will sometimes top seven feet, four and a half is a more normal size. There is no size or coloration difference between males and females. Their lifespan in the wild is not certain, but they can live from 12-20 years in captivity. As is the case with many arboreal species, they have exceptionally long teeth, which is helpful with prey such as birds.

Breeding

Mating occurs once a year in the spring and the gestation period lasts from 6-8 months, during which time the female will sunbathe more than normal, which helps with the egg development. They give birth to live young and the brood size can be up to twelve. Once they are born, the young are immediately on their own and have no further contact with their mother.

Behavior

Amazons are known for being aggressive and many will bite with little provocation. They are primarily an arboreal species and spend the majority of their lives in the trees. They feed at night and descend lower in the branches to find their prey, which consists of small mammals and birds and the occasional lizard or frog. During the night, they hunt using heat pits, but they are capable of hunting during the day using either heat or their vision. As tree snakes, they are thin for boas, they are still constrictors and are very strong for their size.

History

Boas and pythons are considered to be very primitive snakes and they retain characteristics lost to most modern snakes, such as still having two lungs instead of one and they still have remnants of vestigial limbs hidden within their bodies. Pythons are found only in Africa, Asia, and Australia, but boas, while primarily found in the Americas, can also be found on those continents. Telling the difference between boas and pythons can be difficult, but the most obvious difference is that pythons lay eggs while the majority of boas give live birth.

Present Status

Amazons are not currently considered threatened, but habitat loss and continued collection for the pet trade could adversely impact their numbers.

References

  1. Kaleidoscopic Tree Boas: The Genus Corallus of Tropical America by Peter J. Stafford , Robert W. Henderson
  2. Neotropical Treeboas: Natural History of the Corallus hortulanus Complex by Robert W. Henderson
  3. San Diego Zoo
  4. The Atlas of Snakes of the World by John Coborn