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Cooks Tree Boa

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Is the Cooks Tree Boa right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: St. Vincent Tree Boa

Scientific name: Corallus cookii

The basics:
The Cook’s Tree Boa is found only on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. Prior to 1997, it was considered to be a subspecies of the Garden Tree Boa, and accorded a larger range – Costa Rica to Venezuela and Columbia. Adapted to life above ground, Cook’s Tree Boa inhabits rainforests, brushy thickets, banana plantations and orchards near swamps and rivers.

Appearance / health:
Cook’s Tree Boas average 5 feet in length and sport a variable pattern of tan and yellowish crossbars on a brown background. The German name for tree boa means “Dog-Headed Snake” - a comment on the chunky head and unusually-long, sharp teeth.

Behavior / temperament:
This is not a species for those wishing to interact with their pet…unless one defines “interaction” as dodging strikes and dressing bite wounds! Cook’s Tree Boas are not easily tamed, resent being handled, and bite readily when disturbed.

Housing:
Cook’s Tree Boas are best housed in vertically-oriented tropical rainforest terrariums of at least 55 gallons in size, or custom-built cages. The enclosure should be provided with sturdy climbing branches similar to the width of the snake’s body; several forked branches should be available for use as daytime resting sites. They are native to humid tropical environments, and require high cage humidity, especially while shedding. Dry areas must be provided as well. Live plants, twice-a-day misting, and the use of coconut husk or a similar substrate will help to create proper humidity levels. Hanging live or artificial plants should be positioned over branches to act as sheltering sites. Fresh water in a large pan for soaking is recommended. Day temperature: 77-83F; night temperature: 72-77F; basking temperature: 88 F; humidity: fluctuating between 60-85%.

Cook’s Tree Boas are best kept singly outside of the breeding season. Droppings should be removed in a manner that does not disturb the snakes, as they are highly-excitable. Detachable branches that allow you to remove both perch and snake when necessary are recommended.

Diet:
Cook’s Tree Boas feed upon small squirrels and other arboreal rodents, possums, birds, bats, frogs, and lizards. Their staple captive diet is mice. The use of large food items has been linked to intestinal blockages. As they are nocturnal, feeding is best done after sunset. Youngsters feed primarily on frogs and lizards in the wild, and may refuse mice. Scenting a pink mouse with a frog or anole may induce feeding.

Breeding:
Like other boas, this species gives birth to live young, usually less than a dozen 12-inch-long babies at a time. Lowering nighttime temperatures to 69 F and increasing the humidity will help to induce breeding.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

wonderful

zoo exhibits

challenging

high strung

interesting

plastic plants, Tree Boa, CITES paperwork

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