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Boa Constrictor

Appearance

While regularly considered to be one of the largest snakes they are modest in comparison to the largest snakes. The maximum length attained by boa constrictors is 4m (13ft). The female boa is usually larger than the males. The average size of a boa is 2-3m (7-10ft) for females and 1.8-2.4m (6-8ft) for males.

The female boa constrictor will generally weigh 10 to 15kg (22-33lbs) with some specimens achieving weights of up to 27kg (59.5lbs).

The colouring of the boa features a cream, brown or grey base colour. They then have brown or red patches on the back known as saddles. These saddles are more pronounced as they move towards the tail.

Diet

The boa constrictor is a carnivore. The main prey items of the boa constrictor are small mammals. They will take any animal though, which they can fit in their mouths.

boa constrictor

Scientific Name

Boa constrictor

Conservation Status

Not Evaluated

Length

4m (13ft)

Weight

10-15kg (17.5oz)

Lifespan

Wild - 20 years

Captive - 35 years

Diet

Carnivorous

Range

The boa constrictor is found throughout South and Central America. They can found throughout Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador. They also range through Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Belize, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina. There are also some populations on the islands off the coast off these countries.

Habitat

While they can be found in a range of habitats such as semi-deserts, open savanna and cultivated fields they thrive in tropical rainforests. These areas provide cover and the correct environmental conditions. They are competent swimmers and can regularly be found near bodies of water.

Reproduction

The boa constrictor will breed during the dry season which is normally April to August. The male will wrestle for the right to mate the females. They are attracted by the scent the female emits from her cloaca. The female will breed once every 2 years.

After mating the female can store the sperm for up to a year. When she ovulates the stored sperm will fertilise the egg. During this period the middle of the body swell to a similar size as if she has eaten a large meal.

After ovulation a shed will occur that is longer than this. The gestation period of 100-120 days is then counted after this. The female gives birth to 10 to 64 eggs with an average of 25. These young are independent within a few minutes.

Behavior

The boa constrictor is a solitary species. They emerge mostly at nights but sometimes will bask in the sun throughout the day when it is colder.

The boa constrictor goes through a shedding period occasionally. During this time oil under the skin lubricates it to move it off. This also builds up under the eye. This blocks their vision and leads to them becoming inactive for a couple of days. During this period they are also more defensive.

When young they are mostly found in the trees but they move back to the ground as they become older and heavier.

When eating boa constrictors do not suffocate their prey. Instead they squeeze in an attempt to stop blood flow to the brain which sends the victim in to circulatory arrest.

Quick facts

The boa constrictor is regularly kept as a pet

Photo Credits


By Tod Baker from Tianjin, China (Constrictor Constrictor) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

References

National Geographic. 2020. Boa Constrictor. [online] Available at: <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/b/boa-constrictor/> [Accessed 25 April 2020].

Stlzoo.org. 2020. Red-Tailed Boa Constrictor | Saint Louis Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.stlzoo.org/animals/abouttheanimals/reptiles/snakes/redtailedboaconstrictor> [Accessed 25 April 2020].

Wootson Jr., C., 2020. ‘I Have A Boa Constrictor Stuck To My Face. Please Hurry.’. [online] The Washington Post. Available at: <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/07/29/i-have-a-boa-constrictor-stuck-to-my-face-please-hurry/> [Accessed 25 April 2020].

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