Boa constrictor


Boa constrictor IUCN NOT EVALUATED (NE)


Facts about this animal

Though sometimes impressively large, boa constrictors are not the giant snakes of the popular imagination. Depending on their geographic origin and sex (females are usually somewhat larger), they can reach from 1,2 to 3,9 meters as adults. Die Southern boa constrictor (Boa constrictor constrictor) however can grow up to 5.00 meters. The longest recorded specimen was 5.5 m long. The boa constrictor has a short tail, accounting for less than 50 cm of its length. Boa constrictors are pinkish or tan, cream, golden, grey or brownish in color, with a pattern of brown, reddish-brown to black "saddles", ovals or dorsal blobs. Specimens from most localities have more or less prominent dark red, reddish brown or brown markings on the tail. This coloration camouflages them well. Larger members of the Boidae family have heat-sensitive pits on their heads, but this snake has more simple heat-sensitive scales. The boa constrictor is solitary and nocturnal (the pupil is vertical). During the day they often rest at a protected spot, e.g. the burrow of a rodent. These snakes are seasonal breeders. The female emits a scent from the cloaca to attract males. The male and female join together at the cloaca in order for the male to fertilize the eggs. During copulation, males may cling to the female via the evolutionary remnants of the hind legs. Fertilization is internal. After fertilization, the eggs remain in the female's body, where they develop over several months (app. 110 days) inside thin membranes. Unlike its close relative, the python, which is laying eggs, the boa constrictor gives birth to live, fully formed young. The protective membranes rupture as the young are released. As many as sixty snakes are born at one time, each measuring 44 – 50 cm. Young snakes eat mice, small birds, lizards, and frogs. As the snake grows, the size of its prey increases. The diet of adults ranges from rodents and lizards (including iguanas) to birds, marmosets, monkeys, coatimundis, capybaras, agoutis, mongooses, wild pigs, caimans, opossums, and bats, catching them as they hang in trees or caves, or snatching them as they fly by. As a nocturnbal hunter they locate prey with the heat sensitive scales on their snout, as well as by scent. The prey is killed by constriction until it suffocates.

Did you know?
Like all other members of the family Boidae also the Boa constrictor is one of the oldest and most archaic snake species. It still has vestiges of a pair of hind limbs inherited from the boa’s lizard-like ancestors (appendages resembling claws on each side of the genital opening). These appendages are generally larger in males than females and are thought to be used by the male to stimulate the female to mate. Furthermore B. constrictor also has a pelvis as well as a pair of lungs (the left lobe is big, the right one small).


Name (Scientific) Boa constrictor
Name (English) Boa constrictor
Name (French) Boa constrictor
Name (German) Abgottschlange
Name (Spanish) Boa constrictor del Sur
Local names Wowla (Belize)
CITES Status Appendix II, excepto subspecies B. c. occidentalis which is listed in Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Argentina , Aruba , Belize , Bolivia , Brazil , Colombia , Costa Rica , Dominica , Ecuador , El Salvador , French Guiana , Guatemala , Guyana , Honduras , Mexico , Nicaragua , Panama , Paraguay , Peru , Saint Lucia , Suriname , Trinidad and Tobago , Uruguay , Venezuela
Habitat Of all the boas, this snake thrives in the most varied habitat and shows the least inclination toward water (although it is a good swimmer and may spend a considerable amount of time near and in rivers).Thus it lives in deserts as well as wet tropical forests, open savannas, and cultivated fields, from sea level to moderate elevations. Boa constrictors are primarily terrestrial but are also good climbers (arboreal).
Wild population No information about wild population size available, but it’s likely that habitat destruction and harvest for the pet trade decrease the numbers in the wild.

In the Zoo

Boa constrictor


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 44 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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