Order: Squamata, Family: Boidae
The boa constrictor is cream-colored to brownish on top. A series of markings become wider toward its tail with color intensifying to deep red-brown edged with black and cream. It has an irregular rhombic pattern on its flank.
The boa averages 6 to 12 feet in length, and weighs 30 to 40 pounds.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
- The boa constrictor is cream-colored to brownish on top. A series of markings become wider toward its tail with color intensifying to deep red-brown edged with black and cream. It has an irregular rhombic pattern on its flank.
- The boa averages 6 to 12 feet in length, and weighs 30 to 40 pounds.
- The boa constrictor is native to Central and South America.
- It lives in a variety of habitats, from desert to dense, wet tropical forest, open savanna and cultivated fields.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
- The boa constrictor feeds on small mammals (opossums, bats, mongooses, monkeys, rats and squirrels), small or moderate-sized birds, iguanas and large lizards.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
- The boa constrictor is nocturnal and primarily terrestrial, though it forages in trees.
- It is nonvenomous and solitary by nature.
- Solitary by nature, the boa often makes its home in hollow logs and mammal burrows.
- It hisses and strikes when threatened.
- The boa constrictor uses heat-sensitive pits to locate prey (the pits are located along the snake's upper and lower labials); it catches prey by lying in wait or sneaking up on it.
- The boa kills its prey by constriction. Its coils restrain the prey and tighten as the prey exhales, leading to suffocation.
- Boa constrictors are seasonal breeders; the female emits a scent from her cloaca to attract a male.
- Females give birth to a litter of between eight and 60 live young, which measure about 20 inches long each.
VI. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:
- The boa constrictor prefers to eat bats, which it catches by hanging from tree branches or the mouths of caves and knocking them out of air as they fly by.
- The boa depends on its keen sense of to detect prey; its loosely hinged jaws can be stretched far apart, enabling the boa to ingest prey with bodies much larger in diameter than its head.
VII. POPULATION STATUS:
- Valued for its ability to kill rodents, the boa constrictor is sometimes kept as a house pet in South America.
VIII. MORE BOA CONSTRICTOR FACTS:
- All species of boids are endangered or restricted.
- Hunting for leather and meat, the live animal trade and loss of habitat all threaten the boa constrictor's survival.
- The boa constrictor has been known to consume house cats.
- The boa family consists of 39 different species.
- The emerald tree boa closely resembles the green tree python. Both snakes drape across tree branches with their heads in the center of the folds.