Amazon Tree Boa Care

Write By: Christy Published In: Snakes Created Date: 2016-02-21 Hits: 1548 Comment: 0

A care guide for keeping the Amazon Tree Boa, Corallus hortulanus, in captivity.

The Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus) is a magnificent display snake from South America that comes in an array of colours and patterns, from browns and greys to oranges, reds and yellows. We strongly recommend this snake as a display snake for the more experienced or confident keeper – for even with due time and handling they tend to range from unpredictable to aggressive. Over time, as this species learns the feeding patterns and your behaviour, they do usually calm down somewhat, but this could take several years of patience. If you own an Amazon tree boa – you’ll want to buy a snake hook to make necessary handling less risky. 

In the wild these boas are opportunists - often eating frogs, small birds, lizards, bats, or anything that ventures near them without question. In part, this is what has added to their reputation of aggression in captivity, as they have a “strike first, ask questions later” philosophy. They are also a prey item for many of the larger hunting birds and monkeys, and as such, are always on their guard. Although this species is bred in captivity and those which you are buying from a reputable breeder or shop have never known the dangers of the wild, this instinct stays with them. This volatile attitude is what has held this snake back from being a truly popular pet but it makes for a stunning display animal for someone looking for a little challenge.

This species is best kept solo per enclosure, although it is not cannibalistic, it can be extremely challenging to feed two in the same habitat and in feeding confusion, it is easy for accidents to occur.

They are very adaptable, and can be found in various habitats, from low lying bushes, to the tops of the canopy, but are almost always perched up in a bush or branch. Therefore the enclosure for this snake should have some height, and personally we would recommend something that is a minimum size of 24x24x36”, although more length would also provide more space. An Amazon Tree Boa (ATB) will often be seen out in the open, draped over whatever branches and plants you provide – which should be plentiful. Even though they are arboreal, you should provide plenty of hiding places – secure cork bark, logs, hides and enough foliage to help them feel secure and as with many species; the more hiding places they know are around, the more secure they will feel about sitting out in the open. Amazon Tree Boas prefer branches that are perpendicular, rather than horizontal – they like to feel secure when draping their body over a multiple contact points rather than the single horizontal branches preferred by the Emerald Tree Boa.

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This species is prone to dehydration and needs a humidity of 70-80% increasing to 90% during shedding.

A large water bowl on the ground floor will help increase humidity, but your snake may prefer not to go down to the ground. An elevated water bowl such as a canopy bowl, waterfall or a dripper plant will encourage the snake to drink as well as provide increased humidity levels. This snake also does well with live plants, which again will increase humidity naturally – as well as increasing air quality and providing a stunning, natural enclosure. Even with water bowls and potentially plants, you will still need to spray the tank at least once, possibly twice per day depending on the time of year and outside temperatures. Use a reliable digital humidity reader to ensure you are reaching the necessary humidity levels.

Ambient temperature should be approximately 80 to 82 degrees F in the daytime and can drop down to 70-75F at night. A basking spot can reach the high 80s but should not exceed 90F. Generally speaking, provide a steady, mild temperature range and provide a cooler end of the tank that the snake can retreat to. Any heat source should be guarded and thermostatted and we would recommend a Bulb (Ceramic for night time heating, white for daylight heating) as a heat source from above, rather than a heat mat from below. Reptile Radiators are an option, but can be prone to drying out the air more. Although this species does not need any specific, specialist lighting, low level UVB can increase activity and stimulate appetite, whilst LED lighting will be necessary for live plant growth.

Captive bred amazon tree boas will usually take defrost rodents readily in the wild, but care must be taken when feeding and a long pair of feeding tongs should be used.  Juveniles should be fed every 7-10 days and adults every 10-14 days. They do not respond well to powerfeeding – although they may take food items frequently, an overweight Amazon Tree Boa will have a short lifespan, so don’t be tempted to feed them more often, even if they look alert and hungry. They only defecate once every 2-4 feeds and this is perfectly normal, however if temperature and humidity are incorrect the lack of defecation can lead to gastrointestinal complications. Luckily the temperature range they need is very easy to achieve, so this is unlikely to be a problem for anyone with a correct setup.

These are a stunning display snake that is always visible during the day, and does not hide from view. They are alert and active, fairly easy to house and easy to feed as long as you pay attention to your temperatures and humidity – but due to the aggressive nature and some of the care requirements is not suitable for complete beginners to snake keeping.

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