Emerald tree boas are much like the green tree python. Their color is bright green with a yellow underside. An irregular zigzag stripe goes along their back. Their strong prehensile tail helps them to move between branches in the trees. The vertical pupils of their eyes help them sense movement. Deep hollows in the scales near their mouths enable them to detect heat emitted by their prey.
Emerald tree boas live in lowland tropical rainforests of the Amazon River basin within the so-called Guiana Shield. Their habitat is amongst trees but they sometimes go down to the ground to lie in the sun.
The Emerald tree boa lives a solitary life except for mating purposes. They are nocturnal, hunting at night. During the day they lie coiled up over branches, their head in the middle on top of the coils. They catch most of their prey by while they hang from a branch to snatch them off the ground. Agnostic or fighting behavior between males in captivity has been observed when they are housed together with a female, consisting of mounting, chasing, and writhing their bodies until one male becomes dominant. The dominant snake will then pursue the other and overpower it, constricting its neck with the end of its body.
Emerald tree boas are carnivores that eat birds and small mammals, including rats, bats, squirrels, lizards and even monkeys. The young will also eat small reptiles and amphibians. When in captivity, feeding them every two weeks with mice is a sufficient diet. They do not produce any venom.
Breeding season lasts from April to July, mating usually beginning once females reach 4 to 5 years old and males 3 to 4 years old. The boas breed every second year. Females produce up to 20 babies following a 6-7-month gestation period. Their eggs hatch internally, with the young being born live. Baby snakes are brick-red, bright red, orange, or yellow and become green after a year. They are able to climb and look after themselves from birth, not needing any care from their parents.
The major threat is collection for the pet trade. Emerald tree boas are increasingly sought by humans in recent years, as their beauty is pleasing. Loss of the boa's habitat is a concern, though most of their habitat is under little or no pressure.
According to IUCN Red List, Emerald tree boa is regularly encountered in Venezuela, although in Suriname and Brazilian Guiana this species is rather scarce in nature or at least difficult to locate. Emerald tree boa is classified as Least Concern (LC) on IUCN Red List. No estimate of population size is available for this species.
Emerald tree boas help to control populations of small mammals, especially rodents.