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Boa constrictor

Scientific Name: Boa constrictor

The boa constrictor has a large range across much of Central and South America. Their colour does depend on their location but they are generally a brown, grey or cream base colour, patterned with brown or reddish brown “saddles” that become more pronounced towards the tail.

Although boa constrictors have good eyesight, they rely a lot on scent. They use their tongue to pick up scents around them, which are interpreted by the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of their mouth. They are usually solitary snakes, but are not aggressive towards each other and will often sleep in groups.

Boa constrictors, unlike most other reptile species, hold their eggs inside them until the young hatch. This is called ovovivipary. They can have up to 64 babies at a time, but around 25 is more common. Boa constrictor young are born fully developed and are independent within minutes of birth.

They will eat any animal they can swallow, so the type of prey depends on their own size. They catch their prey by striking and very rapidly wrapping their body around to their prey to constrict it. The prey, being unable to expand their lungs to breathe, suffocates before being eaten whole.

The boa constrictor is listed as Not Evaluated by IUCN. They are threatened by hunting for bush meat and their skins and individuals are collected for the pet trade. Habitat loss is further reducing their numbers and causing an increase in road related deaths.

Key Facts:

  • Conservation Status: Not Evaluated
  • Distribution: Northern Mexico to southern South America
  • Habitat: Tropical forest, scrubland, grassland
  • Diet: Small mammals, large animals (carnivore)
  • Weight: Unknown
  • No. of young: 10-65
  • Life Span: 20 years