Baby(ies) on board!
Hi there! I’d like to tell you about one of my favorite snake species we have here at Zoo Atlanta! They’re called Amazon Basin emerald tree boas (Corallus batesii). These beautiful gems are known for their colors. The main part of their body is a vibrant dark green color with a bright yellow belly and a striking white vertebral stripe along its back. There are white crossbars along that vertebral stripe that sometimes resemble barbed wire, diamonds, or shark teeth. These remarkable snakes can potentially reach lengths nearing 7 feet (although average between 4 – 6 feet) and have an average lifespan of 15 – 20 years.
Amazon Basin emerald tree boas are ovoviviparous. This means that the female retains eggs inside of her body and gives birth to live babies. Since the babies develop inside the mother, the pregnancy can last 6 – 9 months. A mother will usually give birth to seven to 18 babies at a time. These babies are almost already around 12 inches at birth! When the babies are born, they will have the same remarkable white vertebral stripe that their parents have, only they aren’t green! That’s right! The babies are typically born shades of orange or orangish brown. On very rare occasions, a green baby is born. During their first year in the world, they will slowly go through their ontogenetic color change, eventually becoming that vibrant deep green this species is so famous for.
Now here’s the exciting part! Since these snakes are ovoviviparous, the entire pregnancy takes quite a toll on the mother. She will need to use a lot of energy and reserves to keep her babies healthy while they develop. Because of this, the females only reproduce once every few years. Recently this year, our beautiful female developed and birthed 14 healthy babies! The Zoo has not seen these gorgeous gems since her last litter in early 2019!
That’s all for now! It’s been great sharing this exciting news with you! Thank you so much! Next time you visit, don’t forget to serpentine your way to the Scaly Slimy Spectacular building to see this amazing species!
(photo: Sam J.)
Keeper III, Herpetology