The Amazon tree boa (Corallus hortulanus) is a species of South American snake found throughout the Amazonia region. These snakes come in a variety of colors in the pet trade. So you may be wondering, do Amazon tree boas turn green?
As a whole, the Amazon tree boa will not turn green. Some animals can be an olive color, but brown, red, yellow, and orange are most common. These snakes do not change color as they age, unlike the related Emerald tree boa.
About the Amazon Tree Boa
The Amazon tree boa is a slim, arboreal snake that is typically between 5 and 7 feet long. They are opportunistic feeders that have a long reach and sharp teeth that allow these snakes to snatch prey from distant branches or even mid-air.
They feed on nearly any vertebrate they can find, such as birds, bats, rodents, and amphibians. These animals are popular as display snakes.
There are two common color morphs that you will see in snakes for sale in the pet trade.
The first is called the “garden phase” and is brown, gray, or olive with patterns running down the back.
This is the most common wild appearance of this species.
They can also be found in red, yellow, and orange. This is called the “colored phase” and may or may not have an obvious pattern.
How strong of a pattern the snake will have will vary depending on the individual animal and what the breeder was selecting for.
It is common to see brown or olive wild-caught animals in the pet trade.
Many captive-bred animals have more vibrant colors since these are display pets.
Everything you need to know about caring for Amazon Tree Boas in captivity:
Read our Amazon Tree Boa Care Sheet (Complete Guide)
Commonly Confused Species
There are two other arboreal snakes that are commonly confused for the Amazon tree boa.
Emerald Tree Boa
The first is the Emerald tree boa (Corallus caninus). These snakes are part of the same genus and share a range with the Amazon tree boa.
Young emerald tree boas are typically red-brown, yellow, or orange. They gain the green color at 4 to 6 months of age. This means that young Emerald tree boas can be mistaken for Amazon tree boas.
They do have a size difference and behavioral differences that can help set these related snakes apart.
For one, the Emerald tree boa is typically larger than an Amazon tree boa. Emerald tree boas also have larger heads with more obvious heat pits.
Each species also rests on branches differently. An Amazon tree boa will spread itself over branches. These snakes prefer having multiple points of contact.
An Emerald tree boa will hang onto one spot with its prehensile tail and loop the body around.
This gives it the distinctive neat coils that make Emerald tree boas so popular. Emerald tree boas also eat lizards, birds, and occasionally arboreal mammals.
Green Tree Python
The other species that is commonly confused is the green tree python (Morelia Viridis). These snakes are native to tropical rainforests in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Cape York, Australia, and a few Indonesian islands.
They are most closely related to other pythons such as the carpet python. Green tree pythons are between 5 to 6 feet long as adults.
They have large, wide heads that are much larger than the rest of the body. These snakes primarily wait for food to pass by, then they will strike and constrict it.
They eat birds, mammals, and more. Because of their color, green tree pythons are frequently mistaken for Emerald tree boas.
Both species will rest in the same manner, with the head resting on loops of the body over a single branch. Young green tree pythons have different colorations for the first 6 to 8 months of their lives.
They will be yellow with patterns in brown, gold, orange-red, or purple. This further helps confuse them with the Emerald tree boa and the Amazon tree boa. Yellow Amazon tree boas can look much like a young green tree python.
However, these snakes have different head shapes and behaviors. Green tree pythons also lay eggs, while both species of tree boa are oviviviparous. This means they give birth to live young.
How to Tell Them Apart
If you are looking at an unknown captive arboreal snake, you may be wondering how to tell what species it is. If you don’t have someone to ask, you can look over a few key traits to help tell these species apart.
First, if the animal is an adult, it will be easier. Amazon tree boas are not green snakes.
If you are looking at a green snake, you are not looking at an Amazon tree boa. Emerald tree boas have a wider snout that is more flat. The green python has a snout that is rounder. Since head shape doesn’t change with age, this is a good way to tell apart younger snakes.
Amazon tree boas have such shorter snouts than either of the other species. While all three animals have slitted pupils, the green tree python typically has eyes with a more complex coloration.
Both boas typically have a solid color for their eyes. Remember that green pythons are also only yellow when young, so you can use this to help narrow down which animal you are looking at.
As you can see, the Amazon tree boa will not change colors. When you bring home a young animal, you already know what color it will be as an adult. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.