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Boas: Boidae

Boa Constrictor (boa Constrictor): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Boa constrictors are usually brown with darker brown and somewhat triangular markings running down the back. The markings may become reddish on the tail, which explains their other common name: redtail boa. The snakes have heads that are wider than their necks and long tails that they use to cling to tree branches. Boas can become quite large, with the longest reaching 13.8 feet (4.2 meters).


Geographic range: They are found in Mexico, throughout Central America, in much of South America, and on various nearby islands along the coasts of these areas.

The boa constrictor lives in many habitats, including evergreen and deciduous jungles, rainforests, near-desert areas, grasslands, and farm fields. (Illustration by Marguette Dongvillo. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: The boa constrictor lives in many habitats, including evergreen and deciduous jungles, rainforests, near-desert areas, grasslands, and farm fields. Boas are good climbers and are often found in trees.


Diet: Boa constrictors usually dine on small mammals, like rats and squirrels, but also on birds, iguanas (ee-GWA-nuhs), and other large lizards. Large boas, which do most of their hunting on the ground, sometimes eat bigger animals, such as porcupines. Young boas are much more likely than adults to hunt for prey in trees.


Behavior and reproduction: Boas hunt for food mostly at night, spending the day inside cracks in tree trunks, in burrows made by tunneling animals, or in some other hiding place. Scientists know little about their mating behavior in the wild. Females, which give birth to baby snakes rather than eggs, may have twenty-one to sixty-one young at a time. The babies are about 19.5 inches (49.5 centimeters) long at birth. The young can have their own young once they are two to four years old.


Boa constrictors and people: Boa constrictors are rather common in the pet trade. They are often seen in farm fields, where the snakes find, kill, and eat many pest animals.


Conservation status: This snake is not endangered or threatened. ∎

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