Boa constrictor

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Boa constrictor
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Sauropsida
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Genus: Boa
Species: B. constrictor
Binomial name
Boa constrictor
Linnaeus, 1758

Boa constrictor is a non-venomous Boa species.[1] The snake can be found in Central and South America, and on some islands in the Caribbean. The common name is the same as the scientific name, which is unusual. The color pattern of its skin can vary considerably. Boa constrictors grow to a large size. Currently, there are ten subspecies, including the one that gives the name (called nominate subspecies).[2]

Description[change | change source]

B. constrictor

The size adult animals reach varies among subspecies. The largest animals have been found in Northern south America. Two animals from Suriname are currently the largest on record: One reached 411cm (13.5 ft), the other 427cm (a bit over 14 ft). Such sizes are rare, boas reaching 3m are considered large.[3] There is a report of a boa reaching 5.6m in Trinidad, but it is believed that snake was an anaconda,Eunectes murinus, taken for a boa.[4]

Boas can use their tail to grasp things. This is known as prehensility. Boas do not have organs that react to warmth around the mouth.[5]

Boas have a color pattern that is brownish, and becomes brick red around the tail. Dorsally, the ground color is overlaid with a series of large tan-colored saddles that become lighter towards the tail. Here, the saddles break up into half rings of a pale cream color in vivid contrast with the red.[6]

Common names[change | change source]

Though all boids are constrictors, only this species is properly referred to as "boa constrictor"; a rare instance of an animal having the same common and scientific binomial name.

All subspecies are referred to as "boa constrictors," while the nominate subspecies, B. c. constrictor, is often referred to specifically as the "red-tailed boa."

B. c. constrictor is also called the "common boa."[6]

Other common names include "jibóia" (Brazil) and "macajuel" (Trinidadian, pronounced mah-cah-well).[7]

Geographic range[change | change source]

Found from northern Mexico through Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) to South America north of 35°S (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina. Also in the Lesser Antilles (Dominica and St. Lucia), on San Andrés, Providencia and many other islands along the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America. The type locality given is "Indiis" -- a mistake, according to Peters and Orejas-Miranda (1970).[1]

Habitat[change | change source]

Flourishes in a wide variety of environmental conditions, from tropical rainforests to arid country.[8]

Behavior[change | change source]

Small individuals may climb into trees and shrubs to forage, but they become mostly terrestrial as they become older and heavier.[3] It is said that specimens from Central America are more irascible, hissing loudly and striking repeatedly when disturbed, while those from South America tame down more readily.[8]

Feeding[change | change source]

Prey includes a wide variety of mammals and birds.[3] Their diet mostly consists of rodents, but larger lizards and mammals as big as ocelots are also reported to have been consumed.[8]

Reproduction[change | change source]

Ovoviviparous, females give birth to live young that average 15-20 inches (38-51 cm) in length.[3]

Captivity[change | change source]

This species does well in captivity, usually becoming quite tame. It is a common sight in zoos. Captive longevity is 20 to 30 years, with rare accounts of over 40 years, making them a long-term commitment as a pet. Proper animal husbandry is the most significant factor in captive lifespan. Though still exported from their native South America in significant numbers, it is widely bred in captivity.

Subspecies[change | change source]

Subspecies[2] Taxon author[2] Common name Geographic range
B. c. amarali (Stull, 1932) Amaral's boa
B. c. constrictor Linnaeus, 1758 Red-tailed boa
B. c. imperator Daudin, 1803 Common northern boa
B. c. longicauda Price & Russo, 1991 Tumbes Peru boa
B. c. melanogaster Langhammer, 1983 Ecuadorian boa
B. c. nebulosa (Lazell, 1964) Dominican clouded boa
B. c. occidentalis Philippi, 1873 Argentine boa
B. c. orophias Linnaeus, 1758 St. Lucia boa
B. c. ortonii Cope, 1878 Orton's boa
B. c. sabogae (Barbour, 1906) Pearl Island boa

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Boa constrictor (TSN 209569). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Accessed on 11 July 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  4. Murphy JC, Henderson RW. 1997. Tales of Giant Snakes: a natural history of anacondas and pythons. Malabar, Fl: Krieger Publishing. 221 pp. ISBN 0-89464-995-7.
  5. Parker HW, Grandison AGC. 1977. Snakes -- a natural history. Second Edition. British Museum (Natural History) and Cornell University Press. 108 pp. 16 plates. LCCCN 76-54625. ISBN 0-8014-1095-9 (cloth), ISBN 0-8014-9164-9 (paper).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ditmars RL. 1933. Reptiles of the World. Revised Edition. The MacMillan Company. 329 pp. 89 plates.
  7. Mendes J. 1986. Cote ce Cote la: Trinidad & Tobago Dictionary. Arima, Trinidad. p. 92.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Stidworthy J. 1974. Snakes of the World. Grosset & Dunlap Inc. 160 pp. ISBN 0-448-11856-4.

Other websites[change | change source]