boa constrictor

Boa Constrictor

RANGE
Mexico, Central and South America, Trinidad, Lesser Antilles

HABITAT
Savanna, arid plains, and tropical rain forests. Hollow logs, abandoned mammal burrows.

SIZE
Averages 7 – 9 feet. Record: 13 ½ feet.

LIFE EXPECTANCY
Wild: Up to 20 years
Record: 40 years in captivity

REPRODUCTION

  • Mating takes place through the cloaca.
  • Boas are ovoviviparous. The eggs are retained in the female’s body, and the young are born alive.
  • There are usually 20 – 60 offspring with an average length of 20 inches.
  • Maturity is reached at 2 – 3 years.

DIET
Wild: Mammals, birds, and lizards. Preferred prey: bats.
Zoo: Mice & rats

BEHAVIOR

  • Arboreal and terrestrial
  • Nocturnal
  • Kill prey by constriction. Prey is not crushed, it is contained by the snake’s coils. Each time the victim exhales, the snake’s coils tighten around its chest so that the ribs cannot expand. Inhalation is prevented and the animal suffocates.

POINTS OF INTEREST
Both males and females have spurs (vestigial legs), one on either side of the cloaca. These are vestiges of hind legs. The male’s spurs are longer than the females and he uses them to stimulate her to mate.

STATUS
Threatened to a degree by the pet trade and the leather trade, but they breed very well in captivity. Habitat destruction is also a problem in parts of their range.

REFERENCES
http://www.nationalzoo.si.edu
http://www.cites.org