Published February 11, 2024. Open access.

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Bates’ Emerald Tree-Boa (Corallus batesii)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Serpentes | Boidae | Corallus batesii

English common names: Bates’ Emerald Tree-Boa, Amazon Basin Emerald Tree-Boa.

Spanish common name: Boa esmeralda de Bates.

Recognition: ♂♂ 117.5 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. ♀♀ 194.5 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail..1,2 Corallus batesii differs from other boas by having a bright green dorsum (orange-red in juveniles) with white wedge-shaped markings, labial scales bearing pits, and a laterally compressed body (Fig. 1).13 This species differs from C. hortulana by having contrasting white dorsal marks (absent in C. hortulana). Also, the bright green coloration is unique to C. batesii.1,4

Figure showing variation among individuals of Corallus batesii

Figure 1: Individuals of Corallus batesii: Yasuní National Park, Orellana province, Ecuador (); Tambopata Research Center, Madre de Dios department, Peru (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Corallus batesii is a rarely seen boa that inhabits the upper canopy of pristine lowland rainforests, both in terra-firme and seasonally flooded areas.1,2,5 Although the species is considered a canopy specialist, this boa is not restricted to the crown of large trees; it can also be found on small trees and saplings.6,7 Occasionally, particularly after torrential rains, individuals are knocked to the ground and may be found at or near the ground level.1,6 These boas are strictly nocturnal8 and spend the night foraging or waiting in ambush.1,2 Throughout the day, they remain coiled on logs or resting on vegetation.1,2,5 Bates’ Emerald Tree-Boas are ambush predators.2,9 Their diet consits primarily on mammals, including rodents, opossums, and bats.210 They also consume birds,11,12 lizards (Thecadactylus solimoensis),13 and other snakes (including Bothrops atrox).10 When threatened, individuals of C. batesii usually make an S-coil and strike.14 When manipulated, they can adopt a “protective ball posture.”7 There are recorded instances of predation on members of this species, including by hawks7 and caimans (Paleosuchus trigonatus).7 This species is viviparous. Females “give birth” (the eggs hatch within the mother) to 7–10 young.1,2,5

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..15 Corallus batesii is listed in this category because the species has large, stable populations and a wide distribution that includes numerous protected areas.15 Unfortunately, this strictly arboreal boid is destined to disappear in some areas due to the destruction of the Amazonian landscape. Additional threats include traffic mortality5 and poaching for the international trade of exotic wildlife.16

Distribution: Corallus batesii is widely distributed throughout the Amazon rainforest south of the Río Amazonas and west of the Río Negro, occurring in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador (Fig. 2), and Peru. Curiously, the species also occurs west of the Andes along the valleys of the rivers Magdalena and Cauca in Colombia.

Distribution of Corallus batesii in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Corallus batesii in Ecuador. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Corallus comes from the old French word coral, which was the name given to dangerous savage and barbaric peoples in ancient times.17,18 This term refers to the fierce and perfidious appearance of tree boas, among which the anterior teeth of the maxilla and mandible stand out.18 The specific epithet batesii honors British naturalist Henry Walter Bates (1825–1892), who spent 11 years in Brazilian Amazonia collecting and studying its flora and fauna.3

See it in the wild: In Ecuador, individuals of Corallus batesii are recorded no more than once every few years at any given locality. The area having the greatest number of recent observations is Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve and its neighboring forests.

Special thanks to Hillary Goldberg and Eridani Mulder for symbolically adopting the Bates’ Emerald Tree-Boa and helping bring the Reptiles of Ecuador book project to life.

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Authors: Danna Duque-Torres,aAffiliation: Grupo de Ornitología, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia. Andrés F. Aponte-Gutiérrez,bAffiliation: Grupo de Investigación en Ciencias de la Orinoquía, Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Orinoquía, Arauca, Colombia.,cAffiliation: Fundación Biodiversa Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia. and Tatiana Molina-MorenodAffiliation: Departamento de Biología, Universidad de los Llanos, Villavicencio, Colombia.

Editor: Alejandro ArteagaeAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieirafAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,gAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Duque-Torres D, Aponte-Gutiérrez A, Molina-Moreno T (2024) Bates’ Emerald Tree-Boa (Corallus batesii). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/HTXZ2458

Literature cited:

  1. Duellman WE, Mendelson JR (1995) Amphibians and reptiles from northern departamento Loreto, Peru: taxonomy and biogeography. The University of Kansas Science Bulletin 55: 329–376. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.part.779
  2. Martins M, Oliveira ME (1998) Natural history of snakes in forests of the Manaus region, Central Amazonia, Brazil. Herpetological Natural History 6: 78–150.
  3. Henderson RW, Passos P, Feitosa D (2009) Geographic variation in the Emerald Treeboa, Corallus caninus (Squamata: Boidae). Copeia 3: 572–582. DOI: 10.1643/CH-08-190
  4. de Fraga R, Lima AP, da Costa Prudente AL, Magnusson WE (2013) Guia de cobras da região de Manaus - Amazônia Central. Editopa Inpa, Manaus, 303 pp.
  5. dos Santos-Costa MC, Maschio GF, da Costa Prudente AL (2015) Natural history of snakes from Floresta Nacional de Caxiuanã, eastern Amazonia, Brazil. Herpetology Notes 8: 69–98.
  6. Duellman WE (1978) The biology of an equatorial herpetofauna in Amazonian Ecuador. Publications of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas 65: 1–352.
  7. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  8. Sethna JM (2021) Activity budget and spatial behavior of the Emerald Tree Boa Corallus batesii. BSc thesis, Atlanta, Georgia Institute of Technology, 16 pp.
  9. Henderson RW, Pauers MJ, Colston TJ (2013) On the congruence of morphology, trophic ecology, and phylogeny in Neotropical treeboas (Squamata: Boidae: Corallus). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 109: 466–475. DOI: 10.1111/bij.12052
  10. Henderson RW, Pauers MJ (2012) On the diets of Neotropical treeboas (Squamata: Boidae) Corallus. South American Journal of Herpetology 7: 172–180. DOI: 10.2994/057.007.0207
  11. Albuquerque CC, Travaglia-Cardoso SR (2024) First record of avian prey ingestion by the Amazon Basin Emerald Tree Boa Corallus batesii (Gray, 1860). Herpetology Notes: 13–15.
  12. Photo by Francisco Sornoza.
  13. Henderson RW (1993) On the diets of some arboreal boids. Herpetological Natural History 1: 91–96.
  14. Greene HW (1988) Anti predator mechanisms in reptiles. In: Gans C, Huey RB (Eds) Biology of the Reptilia. Liss, New York, 1–153.
  15. Rivas G, Gutiérrez-Cárdenas P, Caicedo J, Hoogmoed M, Gagliardi G, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Nogueira C, Gonzales L (2016) Corallus batesii. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T203207A2762173.en
  16. Dixon JR, Soini P (1986) The reptiles of the upper Amazon Basin, Iquitos region, Peru. Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, 154 pp.
  17. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.
  18. Daudin FM (1803) Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière des reptiles. De l’Imprimerie de F. Dufart, Paris, 365 pp.

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Corallus batesii in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

ColombiaCaquetáCamino AndaquíCaicedo 2023
ColombiaCaquetáSan Jose de FraguaRuiz-Valderrama 2023
ColombiaCaquetáSan Juanito de los CedrosiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoMacumaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorMorona SantiagoTunantsNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorNapoEl CocaMHNG 2250.048; collection database
EcuadorNapoEstación Biológica Jatun SachaVigle 2008
EcuadorNapoPrimaveraMHNG 2398.005; collection database
EcuadorNapoRío CotapinoNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorNapoRío NapoNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorNapoSinchi SachaPhoto by Ernesto Arbeláez
EcuadorNapoTurismo Comunitario ShiripunoPhoto by Teo Rivadeneira
EcuadorOrellanaComunidad Kichwa AñanguiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorOrellanaNapo Wildlife CenteriNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorOrellanaRío BigalGarcía et al. 2021
EcuadorOrellanaRío YasuníPhoto by Darwin Núñez
EcuadorOrellanaSan José de PayaminoMaynard et al. 2016
EcuadorOrellanaShiripuno LodgePhoto by Jarold Vaca
EcuadorOrellanaTiputini Biodiversity Station Cisneros-Heredia 2003
EcuadorOrellanaVerde Sumaco, 4 km S ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPastazaArutamiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPastazaBalsauraOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaCanelosHenderson et al. 2009
EcuadorPastazaConamboOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaMontalvoNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorPastazaPindoyacuOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaRío BufeoOrtega-Andrade 2010
EcuadorPastazaRío ConamboUSNM 204088; VertNet
EcuadorPastazaRío TigreHenderson et al. 2009
EcuadorSucumbíosBamboo LodgeiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorSucumbíosBermejoNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorSucumbíosDurenoHenderson et al. 2009
EcuadorSucumbíosKichwa LodgeiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorSucumbíosLago AgrioNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorSucumbíosLimoncochaHenderson et al. 2009
EcuadorSucumbíosMisahuallíNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorSucumbíosReserva Ecológica Cofán BermejoNogueira et al. 2019
EcuadorSucumbíosSacha LodgeiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorSucumbíosSani LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorSucumbíosSanta Cecilia Duellman 1978
EcuadorSucumbíosTarapoa, 5 km NE ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeMiaziReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeShaimePhoto by Darwin Núñez
PeruAmazonasHuampamiHenderson et al. 2009
PeruAmazonasSua, vicinity of, on the Río CenepaUSNM 316564; VertNet
PeruLoretoCampo Santa ClaraNMNH 127121; VertNet
PeruLoretoCaserío El ChinoiNaturalist; photo examined
PeruLoretoCaserío El Chino, 1.5 km SW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
PeruLoretoPongo de MasericheHenderson et al. 2009
PeruLoretoRequenaHenderson et al. 2009