Species group: Boas, Anacondas and Pythons
Other common names: St. Vincent Tree Boa
Scientific name: Corallus cookii
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.
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.
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.
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
plastic plants, Tree Boa, CITES paperwork
Cook's Tree Boa
This variably colored snake is quite interesting, but not a species foir those who wish to handle their pet. Most remain high strung, and bite readily; best thought of as an animal to observe. I've done best with them in zoo exhibits or large custom made caged with plenty of height..they are stressed if unable to remain above ground. Live or plastic plants anchored among the branches are essential as retreats..
From findiviglio Jan 23 2014 9:56PM
Unlikely to find a cook's boa in captivity
In the early 2000s I was lucky enough to work with one of the last verified imports of this species in the UK. No offspring were produced from these snakes unfortunately and they did not thrive in captivity, even in the zoo that they went to as this species is delicate enough to begin with, the long journey and stress for a WC animal can be very taxing.
If you see a "Cook's Tree Boa" listed up in a pet shop now it is not going to be Corallus cookii, but instead Corrallus hortulanus - the Amazon Tree Boa - unless it comes with CITES paperwork and costs many thousands of dollars! Cook's Tree boas are a subspecies that only exit on a very small island (St Vincent); where capture is now prohibited as unfortunately, they are rapidly on their way to extinction.
Here's the problem - in the Caribbean the native's call the Amazon Tree Boa the Cook's Tree Boa - even though it's a different species, so that's how wholesalers importing snakes label it. It's no wonder there are so many mislabelled specimens available and it's one of the most obvious examples of why latin names are needed over common names. If you do find yourself with a true cookii (I'm jealous!) care is the same as the Amazon Tree Boa, but I do think it's important people realize exactly what snake they're buying so you can adequately research the exact environment it comes from..
From Athravan Jun 16 2015 9:10AM