The Boa Constrictor is a snake well known for its hunting and defense techniques. Although it has a calm and docile temperament, its inherent strength must be respected. Just as it smothers its prey by wrapping itself around it, it can also tighten around you.
Like more and more people, you too may want to adopt this reptile as a pet. Or maybe you’re just looking for information about it for your culture ? Whatever your goal, we’ve written an article about it so that you can learn everything there is to know about this exciting snake !
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Boa Constrictor Facts
The boa constrictor is a species of snake in the Boidae family. Also called Boa Constrictor Imperator (scientific name), this reptile is a cold blooded animal and the only one of its family to be a constrictor snake.. Unlike their cousins the Pythons, these ophidians come from America.
The epithet Boa comes from the Latin boa which means “ox killer”.
The epithet Constrictor comes from the Latin “constrictĭo” which refers to the action and effect of constriction.
As a result of crossbreeding in captivity, the Boa Constrictor has a wide variety of different colors, even giving hues never seen in the wild. Regardless of its variant, it always has an irregularly shaped reddish-brown coloration on its back, which makes it quite easy to recognize.
The Boa Constrictor snake has a cryptic color camouflage : its body varies between light brown and beige. Its back is composed of large and angular markings that become more and more visible with age. Its small head is of an elongated triangular shape with dark stripes that go from the nostrils to its neck.
Its head and dorsal scales are small and smooth. Its tail has bands of different colors, with mainly red, yellow or black shades. Its belly is slightly marbled with a yellowish tint.
Its scales can be multicolored and shiny. After moulting, this snake is incandescent.
Juveniles are brighter, with a mottled pattern that fades as they reach adulthood.
Boa Constrictor Size
Since there are several subspecies of Boas Constrictor, it is difficult to establish an average measurement. Indeed, the length of the Boa Constrictor can start at 1.64ft (50cm) while the largest can reach a size of over 13ft (4m). As with other snakes, the female is larger than the male. The largest specimen observed in captivity at the San Diego Zoo in Suriname was 18ft long (5.5m).
Regarding their weight, this very imposing species weighs between 66lbs and 88lbs (30kg and 40kg).
The Boa Constrictor is a solitary and nocturnal species. They come out at night to hunt and take refuge in trees and hollow trunks during the day. As a solitary animal, this animal only associates with its congeners for mating.
This snake moults several times between 4 and 5 times a year. At the first signs of skin loss, it finds a tree to rub and curl up on to accompany the shedding and remove its dead skin.
Like other species of the Boidae family, the Boa Constrictor has a row of thermoreceptors, which allows it to detect its prey thanks to the heat they give off. It is also a very good swimmer and has poor vision.
Are Boa Constrictors Poisonous ?
This animal is non-venomous and rarely aggressive, but it may bite if it feels threatened, especially by another animal. Although its bite is not toxic, it can be dangerous because its strength allows it to compress its prey to paralyze it partially or even totally (it will never eat its prey).
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The Boa Constrictor lifespan is about 20 years in the wild, and can live up to 30 or 40 years in captivity, thanks mainly to controlled feeding and veterinary care.
Where Do Boa Constrictors Live ?
The Boa Constrictor is a widely distributed species. It can be found in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and many other countries. It is also possible to find it in Florida, where it was introduced. This reptile can live from sea level to 3280ft of altitude (1000m).
This snake is both a terrestrial and arboreal animal. It can live in humid areas such as tropical forests, desert areas or savannahs, as well as in humid areas with vegetation such as near farmlands or grasslands. It prefers open spaces, such as rivers, clearings, edges and also near human populations.
This species has become a highly sought after pet, which has resulted in a large amount of captures in their habitat. Most of them were born in captivity.
They have long been hunted for their skin. Despite this, they remain essential in the wild to control populations of animals such as possums (which spread diseases such as leishmaniasis) or to counter rat infestation.
What Do Boa Constrictors Eat ?
This carnivorous ophidian feeds mainly on small mammals (rodents …), birds, amphibians (frogs …) and other reptiles (lizards …).
How does it hunt its prey ?
Not being a toxic species, this snake uses different techniques to catch its prey. Its goal being to wrap itself around its prey to suffocate it, it ambushes it by perching itself on top of a tree to fall on it.
Types of Boa Constrictors
There are 8 subspecies of the Boa Constrictor, the best known being the Red-tailed Boa which lives in the Amazon rainforest and the Orinoco River. These are divided according to the color of the snake or its distribution.
|Amaral’s Boa||Brazil, Bolivia & Paraguay|
|Red-Tailed Boa||Central & Northern South America|
|Ecuadorian Boa||Ecuador & Northern Peru|
|Peruvian Long-Tailed Boa||Northwestern Peru & Southwestern Ecuador|
|St. Lucia Boa||St. Lucia|
|Argentine Boa||Argentina, Southeast Bolivia & Paraguay|
|Orton’s Boa||South America|
|Peal Island Boa||Panama|
Although the exact breeding period and duration varies according to their distribution area, Constrictor Boas usually mate during the dry period, between April and August.
Males are polygamous, which means that they can mate with several females. During this period, females are scattered all over the territory and it is the males that are active and seek to locate them.
Most females do not reproduce every year. They only do so when they are in good physical condition. On average, only half of the female population breeds each year. Although the percentage is higher than for females, males also do not breed every year.
When the breeding season approaches, the female secretes pheromones to attract the male. Once she has found her mate, she moves into an upright position while the male moves slowly and relaxed around her. If she is receptive, the male will move over her and gently hold her.
During the gestation period, the female increases her melanin level to turn black and absorb more heat. After 4 months, she will give birth to between 20 and 60 babies. As soon as they are born, they will measure between 12in and 16in (30cm and 40cm).
Remember that the Boa Constrictor is an ovoviviparous animal, which means that the eggs hatch inside the female and the babies come out already alive.
Now you know the Boa Constrictor perfectly. This snake with a calm and non-aggressive temperament has been in high demand for adoption by individuals, especially during the last 20 years.
This increase is due to captive breeding which has given birth to new variations of this species. If you’re looking to make the Boa Constrictor your pet, be sure to learn more about it because, while it’s not the most complicated animal to care for, it does require some experience.
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