Scientific Name: Corallus caninus
The species name for these snakes, caninus, comes from the Emerald Tree Boa’s facial resemblance to dogs. When looked at from the side, the bulges on the back of the snake’s head, its angled snout, and its elongated teeth are similar to a dog’s head.
These carnivorous reptiles locate their food primarily through sight and through heat-sensing pits located under their upper lip. They also use their tongue and organs within their nose to sense chemical cues and vibrations from approaching prey. Emerald Tree Boas eat their prey whole after first constricting their meal and then holding onto it with their long, curved and sharp teeth.
STATUS: The population of Emerald Tree Boas is stable, but habitat loss is a concern. Raptors, as well as wild feline species and other carnivorous mammals prey upon them.
HABITAT: These snakes range through the wet lowland rainforests of Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Brazil, French Guiana, Colombia, and Suriname. They are an arboreal species living in the canopy and understory of rainforests that receive more than 59 inches of rain per year. They spend most of their lives in trees but may occasionally descend to the ground.
DIET: Emerald Tree Boas consume rodents, lizards, monkeys, bats, and possibly birds. They have a slow metabolism and may go months without eating.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Called “Emerald” because of the beautiful green markings on the backs of the adult boas, many also have white patterns bordered with black, gray, or dark green on these ventral surfaces. Their dorsal, or stomach, colors range from creamy white to bright yellow. While these snakes vary greatly in body color and pattern shape and color, their coloration allows them to blend seamlessly into the trees they inhabit. Adults can grow to over six feet in length, can be more than two inches in diameter and have large, bulky heads. Emerald Tree Boas have strong prehensile tails, meaning tails that can grasp objects such as branches, which they use to coil themselves around horizontal branches. During the day, they spend much of their time looped over a branch with their head in the center. At night, however, these nocturnal and non-venomous creatures extend their head downward to await an approaching meal. They are believed to live around twenty years .
Emerald Tree Boas are viviparous, meaning that the embryos are developed and stay in the mother’s body until the offspring are born live. After a gestation period of about six months, females give to young that can vary in number widely from three to fourteen. Females do not care for their young after they are born. Males mature sexually at three to four years of age while females reach sexual maturity at four to five years. Young Emerald Tree Boas can be born green, red, orange or yellow. At about six months to one year of age, they begin to turn green, a process which can take up to one year.