Amazon Tree Boas are a gorgeous snake species that we’re big fans of. They have an interesting and unique look that makes them stand out no matter who you compare them to!
But if you’re considering getting one as a pet, you need to do your research first. These reptiles need very specific conditions in order to thrive. You can’t jump into ownership without a plan!
Fortunately, this guide will help you with that.
In it, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Amazon Tree Boa care. Their size, temperament, diet, and enclosure setup are just a few of the crucial elements we cover!
Table of Contents
Known for traveling on treetops, the Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus) is one of the more unique snakes in the reptile trade.
This is an arboreal snake that will spend most of its time wrapped around tree branches. When kept in captivity, this behavior provides an interesting display that you’ll never get bored of!
Interestingly enough, Amazon Tree Boas are one of the most widespread tree boa species. They’re most often found in South American. These snakes are quite prevalent in the Amazon River Basin east of the Andes.
Expert Tip: In the pet trade, most of the snakes you’ll find are wild-caught. However, breeding efforts have taken off in recent years, resulting in tamer snakes with a range of unique color morphs.
Amazon Tree Boas can be a handful to take care of (especially if you don’t know what you’re doing). But, their beauty and entertaining behavior make all of the hard work well worth it.
Average Amazon Tree Boa Size
The average Amazon Tree Boa size is between 48 and 60 inches long when fully grown.
Despite their impressive lengths, these snakes are actually quite thin. At their thickest point, most only measure one to two inches in diameter!
Male snakes tend to fall on the smaller end of the size spectrum. Meanwhile, females are thicker and longer than the males.
If you’re hoping to maximize the size of your snake the best thing you can do is provide them with the best possible care while they’re still growing. This means a high-quality diet and habitat.
There are genetic factors that will weigh in as well, but as long as you’re buying from a respected seller there’s nothing else you can do.
In captivity, Amazon Tree Boas have a lifespan that’s around 20 years max when given proper care.
Not all snakes are going to reach that age. Those kept in substandard living conditions often have their lifespans cut short by several years. There are obviously fluke health complications that can arise as well.
Expert Tip: Amazon Tree Boas are said to live a bit longer in the wild. However, it’s very rare for these snakes to live past 20 when kept in captivity.
Appearance & Colors
Amazon Tree Boas can take on a range of natural colors. You can find snakes that are predominantly brown and black. You may also see snakes that are tan with splashes of red.
The most common natural color morph in the pet trade is going to be brown. These snakes typically have hourglass-shaped patterns on their back.
As we mentioned earlier, most of the snakes in the reptile are wild-caught. There are some breeders out there who focus on selective breeding techniques. This results in snakes with distinct color morphs. Generally, those snakes are much more expensive than wild-caught specimens with natural color patterns.
Aside from their color, Amazon Tree Boas have a couple of distinct features. These snakes are known for having piercing eyes. The eyes can be yellow, gray, or slightly red.
Regardless of the color, the eyes of the snake are covered in a reflective membrane. It shines in the light, giving the snake a somewhat intimidating look!
Unlike the stereotypical red tongue that most people associate with snakes, the Amazon Tree Boa has a dark black tongue.
Amazon Tree Boa Care
Amazon Tree Boa care isn’t the easiest thing in the world (we would rate the difficulty and recommended experience level as intermediate). However, with the right know-how, raising this species can be a real joy!
As long as you take the knowledge you learn in this guide and provide committed and consistent care, you shouldn’t have too many problems. We’re big believers that dedicated owners who have the right habits will always have the healthiest (and happiest) reptiles.
Amazon Tree Boas need a sizable vivarium to truly thrive. That said, it doesn’t need to be as big as most people think!
While they do move on forest canopies in the wild, they also spend a lot of time on the ground!
The enclosure only needs to be 24 to 36 inches tall, and 24 to 36 inches long. Length is the more important measurement to pay attention to when looking for an enclosure.
As for width, 18 to 24 inches will be enough to make them comfortable.
Expert Tip: If possible, we recommend going a bit bigger to create a better temperature gradient.
Make sure that you’re choosing an enclosure that has ample ventilation. A vivarium with front-facing doors is best. But, a standard tank with a screened lid will do fine as well. The style should be a secondary consideration compared to the size and quality of ventilation.
Ideal Habitat Setup
When it comes to decorations, your snake’s habitat can be as detailed or simple as you want. Amazon Tree Boas aren’t especially picky.
The only real requirements are going to be thick climbing branches and a hide box.
Utilize cork branches and vines that are roughly the same width as your snake. When arranging the branches, focus more on horizontal space rather than vertical space.
Amazon Tree Boas move from branch to branch rather than climbing up. As long as those branches are elevated off the floor of the enclosure, your snakes should have no problem getting comfortable.
At the bottom of the enclosure, add a couple of hide boxes on opposite ends. A moderately-sized hide will give the snake a safe space to go whenever they’re feeling a bit shy.
If you want to go the extra mile and recreate the snake’s natural environment, you can deck the enclosure out with natural decor. Use substrate materials like coconut fiber, leaf litter, or reptile-approved wood mulch. Then, implement live or artificial plants throughout.
Those decorations aren’t necessary. Some owners stick to the bare minimum to make cleaning easier. However, adding some extra decor will make the habitat one that’s worth showing off!
Temperature & Lighting
Amazon Tree Boas are cold-blooded creatures that will regulate body temperatures on their own. However, you need to make that self-regulation possible by creating a temperature gradient.
On one side of the tank, install a basking light.
The light should make the area between 88°F and 93°F. The snake will use the light several times throughout the day. They’ll take advantage of that extra warmth even more after feeding.
For every other part of the enclosure, you’ll need to provide a cooler ambient temperature.
This area should be around 82°F to 85°F. Temperature drops of 10 to 15 degrees are acceptable at night. If they fall more than that, you will need to utilize a heat emitter or under-tank heating system.
Expert Tip: Don’t use lights at night. All of your lights should be on for only 10 to 12 hours a day. Amazon Tree Boas need that day/night cycle, so make sure to turn lights off after the sun goes down.
Humidity levels of 40 to 70 percent are ideal for Amazon Tree Boas.
A porous substrate that absorbs moisture will help maintain those levels. You can also mist the enclosure periodically if humidity levels start to dip.
As long as you avoid the rookie mistake of picking an insufficient substrate, this method should be enough for you to tweak the humidity over time. If you’re having trouble adjusting the humidity with this method, double-check to make sure you’re using the right substrate.
A moderately-sized water dish is a must-have. You can have a single water dish at the bottom of the enclosure. However, some owners like to install a second elevated dish as well.
Make sure that clean drinking water is available at all times. Dirty water is far more likely to make them sick, and it only takes a second to change.
Expert Tip: Unlike other snake species, Amazon Tree Boas aren’t known to soak in their dishes unless they’re experiencing a health problem (more on that later).
Food & Diet
Feeding an Amazon Tree Boa isn’t too difficult. In the wild, these animals are very predatory and will eat everything from lizards to bats.
When you’re caring for one of these pet snakes in captivity, rodents are going to be the main diet staple.
Defrosted pinky mice are best to start with, and you should shift to larger mice as the snake gets bigger. As a good rule of thumb, the snake’s meal shouldn’t be any bigger than 20 percent of its diameter at the thickest point.
Calcium supplements aren’t always necessary for this species. In most cases, Amazon Tree Boas will get all the nutrients they need from the mice. However, you can dust the rodents in powdered supplements if you think they need a little boost.
It’s also important to understand how their feeding schedule changes as they grow.
Younger juveniles need to eat once every week, and adults will require meals every 10 to 14 days. Be careful about overfeeding! These snakes are notorious for eating far more than they need to when given the chance.
Potential Health Issues
There are several diseases that Amazon Tree Boas can experience. Because most snakes are wild-caught, parasites are actually quite common. Internal and external parasites can wreak havoc on the snake’s body and lead to a significantly shorter lifespan or even death.
Luckily, you can easily treat infestations with prescription medications from your vet.
Mites are another issue to be wary of. Mites will latch onto your snake’s skin, causing extreme discomfort. Snakes often scratch against objects or soak in water to get relief. If not treated, your snake could suffer from bacterial infections.
In most cases, diseases are directly caused by a poorly maintained environment. It’s important to spot clean the enclosure daily. Every four weeks or so, the entire habit needs to be broken down, cleaned, and sanitized to keep bacteria and parasites at bay.
Behavior & Temperament
The most challenging aspect of caring for an Amazon Tree Boa is their temperament. These snakes can get very aggressive. The species is known to bite (and their teeth can do some damage).
To make things even more precarious, they have an impressive striking range. Thanks to their prehensile tails, Amazon Tree Boas can reach at least half of their body length when they attack.
When they do this, they will create an S-shaped curve with their body to generate more power.
Generally, captive-bred snakes are going to be a bit gentler. Some owners report that they will get more comfortable as they mature. But, there are no guarantees!
This is especially true with wild-caught snakes. They’re known to stay aggressive throughout their entire lives. This means you’ll need to have appropriate expectations about handling them.
Because of their aggressive temperament, it’s best to keep Amazon Tree Boa handling to the bare minimum.
In fact, most owners won’t even handle them with bare hands at all. Instead, you’ll often see experienced owners using snake hooks!
Amazon Tree Boas are purely for observation. When you must remove the snake to clean their enclosure, consider using a snake hook or creating a trap with the hide box. That way, you can minimize your chances of getting bitten.
Time To Get Ready
Now that you know the fundamentals of Amazon Tree Boa care, it’s time for you to prepare for ownership (assuming you’re still interested).
Get their enclosure ready to go and be sure you have the right lighting and equipment to keep them comfortable. Thinking ahead is absolutely essential when it comes to owning this species as a pet.
If you have any questions that weren’t answered in this care sheet we’re more than happy to answer them. Just send us a message and we’ll respond as soon as we can!