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Boas: Boidae

Boas And People

Many of the smaller species have little contact with humans. Some people hunt the larger boas for their skins and/or meat or to make medicines. Several species are popular in the pet trade.


People are often surprised that a snake that looks so small can even get its mouth around what look to be impossibly large animals that make up its diet. A green anaconda, for example, can eat an entire deer. Snakes are able to do it, in part, because their lower jaws are different from those in a human. Unlike a person's lower jaw, a snake's jaw is split into left and right sides that are connected by stretchy muscle and tissue, called ligament (LIH-guh-ment). As the snake's teeth grasp the prey animal and draw it into the mouth, the lower jaw—one side at a time—moves forward and pulls the animal farther inside. The snake's head and then its neck stretch like elastic to become much wider than normal, so the prey can fit inside its body.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesBoas: Boidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Boas And People, Conservation Status, Boa Constrictor (boa Constrictor): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT