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Madagascar Ground Boa Fact File

Acrantophis madagascariensis

Credit: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

15kg

(33lbs)

Length

2.4m

(8ft)

Lifespan

Wild 20 years

Captive 20 years

Diet

Carnivore

Rodents, Birds of Prey

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The Madagascar ground boa is the largest species of snake to be found on the island of Madagascar.

They are carnivores and feed on a range of small mammals and birds. As they are non-venomous they must constrict their prey to subdue it before it is swallowed whole.

Their coloration is used to help them camouflage among leaf litter. Within the leaf litter they will wait for prey to pass them by and then strike.

Madagascar ground boas are believed to be common with only some small reductions due to hunting for food and due to a perception that they bring bad fortune or take domestic livestock.

Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.

Appearance

What does the Madagascar Ground Boa look like?

Across the body of the Madagascar ground boa they are colored reddish-brown, cream, grey and black. This variable pattern provides camouflage with the leaf litter which covers the ground in their habitat.

An average Madagascar ground boa will reach lengths of up to 2.4m (8ft) long though larger specimens have been recorded. Large females have been recorded with weights of up to 15kg (33lbs).

Males tend to be smaller than females.

Madagascar ground boas are the largest species of snake to live on the island of Madagascar.

Diet

What does the Madagascar Ground Boa eat?


Madagascar ground boas are carnivores. They feed on a range of mammals such as bats, rodents and lemurs along with birds such as ducks.

They are primarily a sit and wait predator. They will camouflage themselves among leaf litter and then strike out when a potential prey item passes them by.

These animals are considered non-venomous. As such they must use constriction to squeeze their prey. Once it is subdued they will swallow it whole.

Madagascar Ground Boa

Credit: Jjargoud, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Range

Where can you find the Madagascar Ground Boa?

As their name suggests this species is restricted solely to Madagascar. Here they can be found in the North and West of the island.

They are primarily found along the coastline.

Habitat

What kind of environment does the Madagascar Ground Boa live in?

These animals are found in humid forest habitats.

They have shown an ability to survive in disturbed habitat. This includes areas of arable land around villages.

Madagascar ground boas seek shelter in mammal burrows or under fallen trees and debris.

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Reproduction

How does the Madagascar Ground Boa produce its young?

Mating occurs after they emerge from their period of inactivity. Both males and females may mate with multiple partners during the season.

As a species of boa these animals will give birth to live young. Each litter will include between 2 and 6 young.

After birth the Madagascar ground boa juveniles are able to fend for themselves from day one. They shed their skin within the first few days of life and will continue to do so as they grow.

Sexual maturity is reached by three years old.

Behavior

What does the Madagascar Ground Boa do with its day?

Madagascar ground boas will hunt at night.

As suggested by their name much of their life is spent on the ground. They are able climbers though and can move through the trees. Juveniles spend more time in the trees which affords them protection against predators.

During cool periods they will undertake a period of inactivity.

Madagascar Ground Boa

Credit: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Madagascar Ground Boa?

Natural predators of the Madagascar ground boa include the fossa, birds of prey and other snakes.

This species is considered common and this population is believed to be stable.

At present no major threats to the Madagascar ground boa are recognized. Small numbers are taken for their meat and skins. Local people will also target them due to them being seen as a source of bad fortune and a threat to domestic stock.

They are present in the international pet trade and some may be captured from the wild for this.

Quick facts

They may also be known as the Malagasy ground boa.

Madagascar Ground Boa

Credit: Public Domain

References

Nathab.com. 2021. Ground Boa | Madagascar Wildlife Guide. [online] Available at: <https://www.nathab.com/know-before-you-go/african-safaris/madagascar/wildlife-guide/ground-boa/> [Accessed 2 October 2021].

Zootampa.org. 2021. Madagascar Ground Boa | ZooTampa at Lowry Park. [online] Available at: <https://zootampa.org/medusa-monday-madagascar-ground-boa/> [Accessed 2 October 2021].

Jungledragon.com. 2021. Malagasy ground boa (Acrantophis madagascariensis) – JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <https://www.jungledragon.com/specie/8505/malagasy_ground_boa.html> [Accessed 2 October 2021].

The Reptile Database. 2021. Acrantophis madagascariensis. [online] Available at: <https://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Acrantophis&species=madagascariensis> [Accessed 2 October 2021].

Sipa, M., 2021. The giant snakes of the red island: Madagascar boas – MADAMAGAZINE. [online] MADAMAGAZINE. Available at: <https://www.madamagazine.com/en/die-riesenschlangen-der-roten-insel-madagaskarboas/> [Accessed 2 October 2021].

Raxworthy, C.J., Randriamahazo, H., Rakotondrazafy, N.A. & Rakotondravony, H. 2011. Acrantophis madagascariensisThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T283A13055130. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2011-2.RLTS.T283A13055130.en. Downloaded on 02 October 2021.

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