How to Care for Your Amazon Tree Boa

Amazon Tree Boa Care Sheet

Amazon tree boas (Corallus hortulanus) are 5’ long, arboreal snakes native to the South American neotropics, including the Amazon rainforest. They generally prefer a rainforest habitat but are also known to inhabit savannahs and dry forests. Wherever they are, you can usually find them in a tree.

Amazon tree boas have slim bodies and relatively large heads. They are best known for their stunning and unpredictable variety of colors. Some are patterned, some are not, and they can be any combination of brown, gray, yellow, orange, and/or red.

Although stunning, Amazon tree boas are not particularly common pets due to their notoriously nervous temperament, which makes them very hard to tame. However, they make great display animals for those willing to do the work. With good care, Amazon tree boas can live up to 20 years.

Minimum recommended terrarium size for Amazon tree boas

We recommend keeping this species in a 48” L x 24 x W x 48” H. Amazon tree boas may look small due to their slender bodies, but the fact is that they need enough room to stretch out fully, explore, and climb. Of course, if you can go larger that is great! Ultimately, the best living conditions for the animal will depend on their individual needs and preferences.

We do not recommend cohabitating (keeping multiple) Amazon tree boas in one enclosure, as keeping them together will likely cause stress.

Do Amazon tree boas need UVB?

Technically they can survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting for Amazon tree boas. UVB lighting helps give a clear day/night cycle, provides all of your pet's vitamin D, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and offers other benefits. Plus, they are likely regularly exposed to sunlight in the wild, as Amazon tree boas are known to be active during both day and night.

The best UVB bulbs for Amazon tree boas housed in a 48” x 24” x 48” terrarium are:

For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a fixture with a reflector. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, about 11-13” above the basking branch if over the mesh and 14-16” above the basking branch if not. 

UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!

We suggest leaving lights on for about 8-12 hours daily to follow a natural day-to-night cycle. You may wish to adjust this for seasonal changes, such as running the lights longer during the summer and less in the winter. All lights should be off at night.

The best temperature for Amazon tree boas

Like other reptiles, Amazon tree boas are cold-blooded, which means they rely on external temperatures to manage their body temperature and metabolism. A reptile’s enclosure should offer a range of temperatures to allow them to thermoregulate effectively.

Many keepers have found that Amazon Tree Boas aren’t as thermally sensitive as other cold-blooded animals. Most experienced suggest keeping the tree boa at an ambient of about 80-82°F, with a hotspot of no higher than about 88-92 on the warm side. The cooler side of the enclosure should stay in the mid to high 70s. The primary concern is to ensure that the animal does not get too hot. Each reptile may have different preferences and needs, so you may need to adjust these ranges up or down slightly to accommodate your pet better. It is good practice to monitor your animal and make adjustments as needed.

Make sure you’re maintaining appropriate ambient temperatures using digital probe thermometers. Basking and surface temperatures can be measured using a temperature gun. Understanding and observing your specific animal to best identify their needs is crucial. 

Overhead heating methods, such as Halogen bulbs, are recommended to achieve and maintain these temperatures. You may also use alternative methods like radiant heat panels. We do not suggest under-tank heating, ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red or other colored lights, or mercury vapor bulbs as these are not as effective.

It is essential to regulate and monitor the temperature of the heating method chosen. You can use a thermostat, dimmer switch, or rheostat to control the heat output. It is best to conduct regular temperature checks to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

The best humidity levels for Amazon tree boas

Amazon tree boas are tropical species that require an average humidity of 60-80%. To measure humidity, use a digital probe hygrometer and place the probe in the middle of the terrarium.

One effective method to increase humidity levels in the enclosure is to mist it with a spray bottle or automated misting system twice daily. Misting the enclosure first thing in the morning and again at night is recommended. Another way to maintain humidity levels is to mix water directly into the substrate. A cool mist humidifier connected to a hygrostat can also help. We also recommend installing a humid hide for your snake, lined with moistened sphagnum moss, in the upper levels of the enclosure. 


Although substrate isn’t required for Amazon tree boas since they’re arboreal, it does help maintain correct humidity levels and makes the enclosure more attractive. 

We recommend the following substrates:

Substrate mixes are also a great option. You can mix several commercial substrates or create a mixture using a combination of organic topsoil, play sand, and moss. Other self-made mixture options are possible, and you should research the subject thoroughly before creating your custom mix. 

Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on the substrate can also help with humidity.

Remove poop and urates daily, along with the contaminated substrate. Regularly cleaning the substrate is recommended. We suggest replacing it monthly.

If using paper towels, replace them once they are soiled. Paper towels can quickly develop mold and hold bacteria if left unchanged for too long. 

If you use a bare bottom enclosure, or alternative options such as tile, disinfect the material anytime they are soiled. We recommend a reptile-safe disinfectant.

Ultimately, the choice of substrate for your snake’s enclosure will depend on your personal preferences and your pet's needs. Regardless of which substrate you choose, you must maintain it properly to ensure your animal stays healthy and comfortable.

How to decorate an Amazon tree boa terrarium

Enrichment strategically provides items and activities to encourage a captive animal to exercise natural behaviors.  Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment by strategically using décor items. 

Since Amazon tree boas are arboreal, providing branches for them to climb and perch on is extremely important. Branches should be roughly the same width as the thickest point of the snake’s body and preferably have multiple forks. 

Here are some other ideas to consider:

Aside from branches, ensure your snake has covered areas to retreat to when it wants privacy.

What to feed to an Amazon tree boa

Amazon tree boas are carnivorous, meaning they must eat whole animal prey for proper nutrition. Here is a basic feeding schedule based on snake age:

  • Hatchlings and juveniles (<2 years old) should be fed about once every 7-10 days.
  • Subadults and adults (>2 years old) should be fed about once every 14 days.

Prey items should be around 10% of the snake’s weight and no more than 1.5x its width at its widest point. For young Amazon tree boas, that’s usually pinky and fuzzy mice. You can transition them to hopper mice, adult mice, young rats, and chicken/quail chicks as they age. 

You can feed live or frozen prey items. We recommend using frozen/thawed rodents when possible, as they are easier to find and store while eliminating the risk of the prey injuring your snake. If you choose to feed live prey, we strongly recommend monitoring your snake during feeding so that you can quickly remove the rodent if needed. Frozen prey should be thawed in a BPA-free plastic bag in warm water until it reaches ~100°F. Use a pair of soft-tipped feeding tweezers to offer it to your snake.


Amazon tree boas tend to like to soak after a meal, so we recommend providing a large tub of water big enough to accommodate the snake’s entire body. Keep the water clean and debris-free, and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly or whenever it becomes soiled.

How to handle your Amazon tree boa

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling as dogs and cats do, and Amazon tree boas prefer to be left alone rather than handled.

These snakes are very nervous around humans and other potential “threats,” so they strike at anything that comes near, especially when young. If you need to work in your boa’s enclosure, use a snake hook or paper towel to keep it occupied. If you’re worried about getting bitten, wear a pair of welding gloves and a face shield.

The good news is that Amazon tree boas tend to get more relaxed around humans as they age.

*This care sheet contains only basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!

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