The Emerald Puzzle
Geographic Variation in Corallus caninus
Keywords:Treeboas, Corallus caninus, South America, Amazonia, Guiana Shield
The Emerald Treeboa (Corallus caninus) is one of the most famous and easily recognized snakes in the world. Despite this and its aesthetic appeal as an exhibit animal, surprisingly little is known about its biology. It has a wide geographic distribution in South America (the Guiana Shield and Amazonia), but is common nowhere. Emeralds are nocturnal and occur in mature rainforest where they prey on lizards, marsupials, and rodents. Corallus caninus has had a remarkably stable taxonomic history since being described nearly 250 years ago, but ongoing examination of geographic variation in morphological characters and analysis of DNA sequences strongly indicates that more than one species may be masquerading under the C. caninus umbrella.