Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus) Caresheet
by Zachary Titus
Orange Phase Amazon Tree Boa
© Zachary Titus
Amazon Tree Boa / Garden Boa Locations
The Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus), is found throughout South America in southern Colombia (east of the Andes), southern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Amazonian Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
A majority of the Amazon Tree boas today are imported from Colombia and Suriname. While being easer to care for than Emerald Tree Boas, Amazon Tree Boas are still a minority in captive collections due to their behavior, amount of care needed, and lack of color compared to Emerald Tree Boas.
Amazon Tree Boa Description - Characteristics - Size
Being polymorphic, the Amazon Tree Boa (C. hortulanus) is quite possibly the most variable of the Family Boidae with colorations ranging from Blacks, grays, browns, greens, yellow, orange, reds, or any combination of colors throughout the pattern. Common to most Amazon Tree boas is dark stripes behind the eyes and a diamond shaped patterning along the back that is lighter in the middle, with some examples being almost pattern-less, speckled or banded. Genetics seem to have no affect on coloration or pattern, over the years only two pattern morphs have been bred, Tiger being mainly striped and Aztec a random striping pattern. Some studies have shown that brighter colored Amazons tend to be more common in higher altitude collection areas.
Amazon Tree Boa Housing
© Zachary Titus
The Amazon Tree Boa ranges from inexpensive garden phase animals to bright pattern-less animals that can come with a hefty price, and captive bred animals are now more common and can be found with a little looking, though many of the animals offered are imported. Amazon Tree Boas have been known to reach up to 9 feet, 3.5-5 feet is generally more common though. Despite their length, Amazon Tree boas stay rather thin bodied with 400-600 grams being the typical adult weight. Amazons quick defensive strikes and long reach make this snake more suited toward the intermediate herpetoculturist.
Imported and wild-caught animals are often irritable, under stress, and take a long time to settle into a captive environment. They can be difficult feeders preferring small reptiles, frogs, and birds as prey. A captive raised specimen that is already feeding on mice is the better choice.
Amazon Tree Boa Enclosures - Decorations
Allowing the snake as much room as you can physically and financially afford is ideal, but an enclosure that is a minimum of 2.5 to 3 feet in length and up to 6 feet in height, with the cage being at least as tall as it is long, or two-thirds the length of the snake, is necessary for an Adult Amazon. They are arboreal, though not strictly so. The will also seek out hiding areas in the ground and use standing water (water bowls). Climbing branches should be at least as thick as your boa, providing braches in several sizes and shapes for the best results. While Amazons may coil on a branch like Emerald Tree boas, they seem to prefer to sit within forked branches with more than one side of their body in contact with the branches. Neonates will feel more secure in smaller enclosures, and juveniles can be housed in a 10 gallon vivarium. Amazons are very slow growers and can normally stay in a 10 gallon cage for at least one year. Cage furniture can be simple or decorative, but branches and plant cover must be provided, as this species will not make use of traditional hides.
Amazon Tree Boa - Water
Fresh clean water should be made available at all times in a large water bowl, if possible one that is big enough to allow the snake to soak in if it chooses to. Amazons will drink droplets of water off their own body, so daily misting for humidity will aid with hydration as well. A moisture retaining substrate should always be used to provide humidity for your boa.
Garden Phase Amazon Tree Boa
© Zachary Titus
Heating Amazon tree boas is best done with ceramic heat emitters or moonlight bulbs. Due to the damp substrate, heat mats are ineffective as a lone heat source, though you may chose to use one to heat the substrate for live plants. The upper levels of the cage should be in the mid to high 80ís Fahrenheit (29C) with a hot spot in the low 90ís Fahrenheit (31C), with the lower area of the cage in the high 70ís Fahrenheit (25C). Night temperatures can be allowed to drop into the low 70ís high 60ís Fahrenheit (21C).
Amazon Tree Boa Lighting
A photoperiod of 12 hours daylight and 12 hours night is ample, although this can be altered to mimic seasonal changes. This may be particularly beneficial when in preparation for breeding, with a reduced daytime period of 8-10 hours. The photoperiod can be artificially provided with the use of light bulbs or tubes, or, if enough ambient light is present from windows, the natural photoperiod is fine. As this is a species that would normally be exposed to low amounts of UVB light, it may be beneficial to provide UVB lighting, though it is not needed.
Feeding Amazon Tree Boas
In the wild, rodents, other small mammals, small reptiles, frogs, insects, and birds make up the main diet of the Amazon Tree boa. Hatchlings and newly imported animals may only be feeding on live mice, frogs, lizards, or chicks. Indian pinkies (pinkies dipped in chicken feathers) can be used to get some picky feeders to eat. Snakes are capable of eating items that are one- one and a half times the thickest part of their girth, but often more food items that are smaller are easier to digest than one large food item. It is healthier for the snake as a pet to be fed moderate quantities on a regular basis. Amazons under a year in age can be fed every five to seven days, and active or growing boas once a week. A neonate can be started on pinkie mice, and the amount of food can be gradually increased as the snake grows. An adult will male will normally end up eating only large mice, while adult females can be fed on medium rats, due to their slower growth rate and reduced activity can be fed less often. One feeding every two weeks for Female adults and once every 2-4 weeks for adult males, depending on the size and age of the individual, is adequate. Amazon tree boas can be reluctant feeders at times teasing the tail with the prey or rubbing it along the heat pits normally causes the snake to strike, you may have to repeat this a few times before they start to eat their prey.
Sexing Amazon Tree Boas
Sexing the snake can be achieved by external visual means, although this is not the most accurate way of defining the gender of the snake. The Amazon Tree boa is best sexed by probing. Due to the thin body and delicate bone structure of their tail, Amazon Tree boas under the age of 12 months or small specimens should not be probed. This method should only be practiced by an experienced herpetoculturist, and involves using a probe to check for the presence or absence of hemipenes (the male reproductive organs).
Male Garden Phase Amazon Tree Boa
© Zachary Titus
Female Amazon Tree boas normally reach maturity at the age of three to four years and weight of 400-600 grams, males can be mature at the age of one year, but are still normally too small to mate with an adult female. The gestation period for Amazon Tree boas is seven to ten months; breeding normally takes place from December to March, during a cooler dry period followed by warm heavy rains. Birth normally takes place from September to November, the number of neonates is normally from four to fourteen, and when born are approximately. 17 inches long. They will have completed their first shed after 2-3 weeks an then will be ready to be fed. All boas are ovoviviparous, meaning that they bear live young.
Amazon Tree Boa - Additional Information
Despite their unfriendly disposition, Amazon Tree boas are beautiful display animal for the advanced keeper even in the simplest of cages. They are often sitting in direct view and rarely seek out a secluded hiding are once adjusted to their home.