Corallus hortulanus Amazon Tree Boa
Along Río Orosa, Loreto, PeruJanuary 17, 2013
Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus)
These arboreal snakes are typically found at night via flashlight by their reflections and eye shine, and this drab-colored adult was no exception. A group of us were returning from an evening boat ride when we passed very close to this snake in the foliage overhanging the river. Several people noticed it and started the usual I've-just-seen-a-snake shouting (joyful), so the boat driver pulled over close to it and Matt Cage wrangled it out of the tree without it actually biting anyone, which was an impressive and/or lucky feat. We brought it back to camp for photos, and I intended to photograph it the next day, but it got released before I had a chance, so all I have is this blurry in situ shot.

As a group we saw several more tree boas, but this was the only one I saw before it was captured. Here is a complete list of the herps I saw in the wild on my 2013 MT Amazon Expeditions trip.

Along Río Mazán, Loreto, PeruJanuary 26, 2022
Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus) Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus)
About half of our group of intrepid herpers took to a small boat one night to look for critters along the river, especially Amazon Tree Boas in the gallery rainforest. (The other half went the following night.) We had been out for a good long time with nothing to brag about except Marisa's excellent mid-air catch of a very large treefrog when someone (I think it was Marisa again, who was riding in the prime critter-spotting position on the bow) noticed eyeshine up a tree at the river's edge at about the right height for one of the boas we were hoping for. More flashlights and eyeballs aimed at the spot confirmed that it was indeed a snake, and Emerson steered the boat over to the riverbank, thick with mud. Before we could even begin to discuss the best course of action, Tom leapt out of the boat and into the muck, pulled himself up the bank to the base of the rather flimsy-looking tree, and began climbing it. Fortunately for all of us, Tom is not a large person, and the tree supported him with only a moderately terrifying amount of creaking and wobbling. A few moments later he had the adult boa in hand, and everyone was happy. Except perhaps the boa who, if I recall correctly, took out its displeasure on some of Tom's arm flesh. Ten points for Tom!

We brought it back to the field station and took photos during daylight hours, before sending it back to its tree of origin on the next night's boat.

Along Río Mazán, Loreto, PeruJanuary 26, 2022
Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus) Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus) Amazon Tree Boa (Corallus hortulanus)
Not too long after bagging that first boa another set of snake eyes up a tree reflected our flashlights back at us. Boa number two was much higher than number one had been, and at first we were worried that it might evade our collective grasp. Hard to believe, but even Tom couldn't maneuver his way up the tangled mass of branches and lianas to get close enough for a grab. What to do, what to do? The answer: deploy our secret weapon, Emerson. Emerson is a distinctly larger fellow than Tom, but he is no less intrepid and he has serious Amazon tree-climbing experience.

Soon Emerson was twice as high in this tree as Tom had been in the previous one, but still not high enough to reach the boa, which had become wise to our plans and climbed up and up as Emerson approached. Did the seeming impossibility of catching the snake stop Emerson, or even slow him down? No, no it did not. Emerson, basically defying death already with his precarious perch far above the raging river (OK, fine, above a very muddy embankment of a slow-moving river; it still would have hurt, or at least been very messy, if he had fallen) began to shake the branch at the top of which the small boa had ended up, and continued to shake that branch until the boa (but not, thankfully, Emerson) finally lost its grip and plunged downward towards the (not-really-)raging river. Before it could splash down and swim to freedom, what should appear at the target point of its dive but the outstretched hand of Tom, who had foreseen this moment coming and waded through chest-high waters (his chest, not mine) to position himself perfectly beneath our falling friend. Like Willie Mays, Tom held the serpent aloft to the rapturous cheers of the crowd. Ten points for Emerson, and another ten points for Tom!

This second boa was a li'l one, much more beautiful than the rather drab adult we found first. It too accompanied us back to the field station for daylight photos, and was returned to its favorite tree the following night.

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