The emerald tree boa was first scientifically named by naturalist Carl Linnaeus. Its specific name “caninus”, meaning dog, refers to the snake’s snout, which Linnaeus believed resembled a dog’s.
Originally, it was thought that there was only one species of emerald tree boa – C. caninus. However, a separate species was recognized in2009 – C. batesii. Known as the Amazon Basin emerald tree boa, it is very similar to its cousin, but can be separated by the white markings on its back. On C. caninus, these markings are individual “lightning bolt” shaped marks, while on C. batesii, the markings are connected in a single stripe that runs down its back. The number of scales on the snout, as well as their overall shape, is different between the two species.