Boa constrictor

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Boa constrictor
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Boa constrictor
Linnaeus, 1758

Boa constrictor is a non-venomous Boa species.[1] The snake is 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. There are ten 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. 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]

All boids are constrictors, that is, they kill by squeezing their prey to suffocation. This species is a rare instance of an animal having the same common and scientific binomial name.

All subspecies are referred to as "boa constrictors". B. c. constrictor is also called the "common boa."[6]

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

Biology[change | change source]

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.[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.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 McDiarmid R.W; Campbell J.A. & Touré T. 1999. Snake species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. vol 1, Herpetologists League. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume)
  2. "Boa constrictor". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 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 J.C. & Henderson R.W. 1997. Tales of giant snakes: a natural history of anacondas and pythons. Malabar, Fl: Krieger Publishing. ISBN 0-89464-995-7.
  5. Parker H.W. & Grandison A.G.C. 1977. Snakes: a natural history. 2nd ed, 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 R.L. 1933. Reptiles of the World. MacMillan. 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]