Twycross Zoo Boa constrictor

Boa constrictor

Boa constrictors are found all throughout central and southern America with many sub-species surviving in the islands of the Caribbean.

They are most often found in rainforest edges or clearings as well as dry tropical forests, scrub and agricultural land. They are most often found near streams and rivers as they are known to be exceptional swimmers however prefer to be on land. Although not as big as their relatives the anaconda and reticulated python these animals are seen as some of the largest snakes in the world reaching 2 to 3 meters and often more.

They are solitary animals which are also nocturnal however they do come out during the day to bask in the sun when the temperature is cooler.

During the day they tend to sleep in hollow logs or the abandoned burrows of mammal species. They can often be seen perching in trees or the entrances to burrows in order to ambush prey as it passes. Although they mainly spend their time on the ground they are semi-arboreal and will climb trees in order to get to prey

These snakes take their name from their famous ability to catch their prey then quickly wrapping their muscular bodies around them constricting them and squeezing them until death.

The non-venomous boa has small hooked teeth, rather than fangs, for gripping and holding onto their prey. If they do damage or lose any of their teeth they can regrow them. They are able to prey on anything they can swallow whole, depending on their size this can be anything from rodents, birds, bats, monkeys, wild pig and even small deer species.

Boa constrictors don’t lay eggs but instead retain them inside their bodies, to keep optimal temperatures, until they are ready to hatch, giving the appearance of live birth,this is known as being ovoviviparous.

The only time these snakes tend to come together is during breeding season where females will emit a scent to attract males to her. Research has shown that females will only breed when they feel they are in peak conditions and are capable of mating with multiple males during a single breeding season. Once the young appear they are completely independent.

These animals are known to be fairly placid around humans and are only aggressive towards animals they know they can eat.

The only time they can be aggressive is when they shed their skin, which they do in order to grow, during this period boas can have restricted vision and become very agitated. Many farmers have actually created a symbiotic relationship with boa constrictors keeping them on their land as pest control to remove rodents and other pest species.

Currently boa constrictors are not listed by the IUCN red list however they do face a number of threats from humans.

They are hunted by many for their meat as well as their skin, which is a commodity in the fashion industry. Further to this with the increase in roads through their habitat they are often the victims of traffic collisions. Lastly due to their placid nature they are often collected from the wild for the exotic pet trade.

Key Facts:

Conservation Status: Not listed

Distribution: Central and south America

Habitat: Rainforest edge and clearings, dry tropical forests, scrub and agricultural land.

Diet: Rodents, birds, bats, monkey, wild pig and small deer.

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