Boa Constrictor Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The boa constrictor (Boa constrictor) is a large to medium-size snake that is typically found in the forests of South America. It is one of the least understood snake species. Boas do extremely well in zoos and thus they are widely bred in captivity worldwide. Biologists have yet to assess boa’s behavior in the wild.

Boa Constrictor Facts

Anatomy

  • Boas are likely to show brown skin with black patterns but the color largely varies from species to species. The markings are not always black sometimes they are reddish brown whereas at others dark brown.
  • Boa constrictor’s head is large as compared to its laterally compressed body. Boa’s has got long tail.
  • The boas are only moderately large as compared to Burmese and reticulated pythons.
  • It grows to a length of 3–13 ft (0.91–3.96 m). Females are larger than the males.
  • Adult males weigh up to 6 and 8 ft (1.8 and 2.4 m) while females averaging 7 and 10 ft (2.1 and 3.0 m) in weight. The captive female is thought to weigh up to 10 feet.
  • They have got cells in their lips which serve as heat sensors.

Geographic Range

  • Boa constrictor’s typically live in Central and South America. They also occur in the northwestern and northeastern Mexico.
  • In Central America they are found in Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador.
  • Many boas occur all throughout the South America including Venezuela, Columbia, Uruguay, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, French Guiana, Argentina, Bolivia, Lesser Antilles, and Guyana.
boa constrictor facts
Boa Constrictor ©Commons.Wikimedia.org

Habitat

  • Boas are thought to make homes in several environmental habitats ranging from tropical rainforests, deserts, grasslands, to semidesert habitats. They occupy rainforest habitats for two major reasons; rainforests provide boas natural cover from potential predators as well it has humidity.
  • They are expert swimmers as such boas live near streams or rivers. Boa constrictors may also utilize burrows made by medium-size mammals such as armadillos, agoutis, and pacas.

Behavior

  • Outside the breeding season, boas are generally solitary snakes. Boa constrictors are nocturnal but they do expose in the sun in order to absorb enough heat to move at night (when the temperature drops).
  • They are semi-arboreal and are often seen climbing up the trees or shrubs to forage.
  • Adult boa constrictors are only moderately terrestrial but they become more terrestrial as they grow older. They never strike humans but when they do the bite causes a painful bite.
boa constrictor facts
Boa Constrictor in the tropical rainforest ©www.thinglink.com

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Boa constrictors are most likely to eat birds and small-size mammals. They also consume medium-size mammals including lizards, squirrels, pacas, monkeys, and rodents. They have been reported to eat ocelots and porcupines but mammals such as this never become the part of regular diet.
  • Young boas are thought to consume small mice, amphibians, birds, bats, and lizards including iguanas, tegus, and ameivas.
  • Like green anaconda, boas are ambush hunters. Under water, they wait and wait and wait for a suitable prey to come along. However unlike anacondas, boa constrictors do not suffocate their prey. They strike at the prey and the bite causes a major shut down of blood flow to the brain. As it turns out, the prey dies of consciousness and not of suffocation.

Reproductive Biology

  • Boa constrictors litters live young snakes in the breeding season that lasts from April to August.
  • A female gives birth to 10 – 65 live young after a gestation period of about 3 – 4 months.
  • When they grow to a size of 6–10 feet (1.8–3.0 m) at 3 – 4 years age boas become mature. After every 60 – 120 days boa constrictors shed their skin but less frequently.
  • The average lifespan of boa constrictors is 20 – 30 years in captivity.
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