How to Care for Your Emerald Tree Boa

February 12, 2021

emerald tree boa


Emerald tree boas (Corallus caninus) are 4-6’ long, nocturnal, non-venomous snakes native to northern South America. Although emerald tree boas are orange to brick red when they hatch, their adult coloration is vivid emerald green with broken white “zig-zag” markings on their dorsal surface. Their bellies are yellow. 

Emerald tree boas are generally known for aggressive behavior and are particularly sensitive to inappropriate husbandry, so they are advanced-level pet snakes.


The minimum enclosure size for a single emerald tree boa is 2-3’L x 2-3’W x 4’H. The best cage materials are going to be front-opening glass, PVC, or well-sealed wood with a mesh top. Whichever you choose, the enclosure must be well-secured against escape.

In the wild, emerald tree boas spend most of their time hanging out in trees. They require well-anchored branches and perches set at different heights throughout the enclosure. It’s helpful if some or all of the perches are removable so that the snake and its perch can be easily removed from the enclosure when necessary. 

Although emerald tree boas are native to a tropical rainforest habitat, humidity is a little lower in the trees than it is down on the ground. A variety of techniques have been employed to maintain adequate humidity without keeping the snake wet. It helps to use a well-moistened (but not muddy) substrate, leaf litter, live plants, and a cool mist humidifier.

Cypress mulch, coconut fiber, ABG soil mix, and reptile soil are appropriate to use as substrate. Spot-clean the substrate as needed, and full substrate replacements must be performed regularly. 

In addition to substrate, you will also need live or artificial foliage to provide cover and enhance the snakes’ sense of security. A water bowl should be provided, large enough for the snake to soak in. Some keepers place the water bowl on the bottom of the enclosure and others put it at a higher elevation. The water bowl should be kept clean at all times.

Heating and Lighting

Emerald tree boas are nocturnal and don’t require UVB lighting to survive, but it is highly beneficial to their health, especially for preventing metabolic bone disease. Provide a Zoo Med or Arcadia UVB light, roughly the same length as the enclosure, and mounted in a reflective fixture. UVB lamps decay over time, so they must be replaced every 12 months.

Because they are cold-blooded, emerald tree boas require a heat gradient with an appropriate temperature range to help them self-regulate their body temperature. As arboreal creatures, the heat gradient should be oriented vertically, with the top air temperature around 85°F and the temperature at the bottom of the enclosure around 75°F.  Provide heat with a cluster of at least two halogen flood heat lamps.

Food and Supplementation

Emerald tree boas are carnivorous, like other snakes. In the wild they eat birds and bats, as well as some other mammals. In captivity, they are primarily fed mice, rats, and young birds. Vary the size of the feeder with the width of the snake. Adult emerald tree boas should be fed a single frozen and thawed prey item every 2-3 weeks. If live prey is used, the snake must be supervised during feeding to prevent the animal from harming your snake.

Although emerald tree boas should be able to get complete nutrition from their whole prey diet, it’s helpful to use a supplement. Occasionally dust prey with Repashy Calcium Plus Lod to provide calcium, vitamin D3, and other vitamins and minerals.

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you're new to emerald tree boas please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.


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