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What is a Tree Boa?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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The emerald tree boa is native of Brazil, Guyana and Suriname. As the name implies, this green snake with white stripes prefers to live in the forest foliage. It likes to stay near swampy or marshy areas. The tree boa is a constrictor, and it is a carnivorous animal.

The tree boa, also called Corallus caninus, grows to an average length of between four and six feet (1.2 to 1.8 m). Some snakes found in the Amazon basin have measured up to nine feet (2.7 m) long. They are very good at climbing trees, and hold on with their lower body while reaching upward with their head. Once they have wrapped their head and neck around the trunk or a higher branch, the snake releases its hold with the tail and moves its lower body up the same level as the head.

This serpent is nocturnal, which means that is most active at night. It is able to detect its prey by using heat sensors that are located under its upper lip. These sensors help the snake locate and hunt warm-blooded animals, like birds and small mammals such as rats, squirrels, monkeys and bats. Lizards may also form part of the boa's diet. The emerald tree boa also uses its forked tongue to "taste" the air and detect odors.

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When the tree boa locates its prey, it uses stealth to approach it carefully. The green and white color of its scales help to provide effective camouflage for the snake. The boa uses its long, sharp teeth to grab the prey and hold it while it quickly wraps itself around the prey animal. Once the coils are in place, the snake starts to squeeze with its powerful muscles. Every time the prey exhales, the boa squeezes tighter. The squeezing continues until the animal is suffocated.

Snakes don't chew their prey. Instead, they swallow it whole, starting with the head. Once a snake like the tree boa has eaten a meal, digestion is a lengthy process. The snake will not have to eat again for some time after feeding.

The emerald tree boa gives birth to live young. Between 10 and 20 young are born at once, and they fend for themselves from birth. The youngsters measure approximately one foot (0.3 m) in length when they are born, and they are brown in color. They start to change to the green color of an adult at approximately four months of age.

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