Boa constrictor

Boa constrictor

For other uses, see Boa constrictor (disambiguation)
Boa constrictor is a non-venomous boa species found in Central America, South America and some islands in the Caribbean. The common name is the same as the scientific name, which is unusual. A staple of private collections and public displays, its color pattern is highly variable and it may grow to become quite large. Ten subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.''

Description

Adult sizes vary among the subspecies, although those found in northern South America reach the greatest lengths. The largest specimens on record are two from Suriname; one measuring 13.5 feet (411 cm) and the other slightly over 14 feet (427 cm). However, such sizes are very rare and on average 10 feet (305 cm) is considered a large specimen. There is also a report of an 18.5 foot (5.6 m) specimen from Trinidad, but this is now believed to have been a misidentified anaconda, Eunectes murinus.

The tail is slightly prehensile and there are no thermoreceptive labial pits around the mouth.

The color pattern consists of a ruddy brown ground color, becoming a rich brick red on the tail. Dorsally, the ground color is overlaid with a series of large tan-colored saddles that become lighter towards the tail. Here, the saddles break up into half rings of a pale cream color in vivid contrast with the red.

Common names

Though all boids are constrictors, only this species is properly referred to as "boa constrictor"; a rare instance of an animal having the same common and scientific binomial name.

All subspecies are referred to as "boa constrictors," while the nominate subspecies, B. c. constrictor, is often referred to specifically as the "red-tailed boa."

B. c. constrictor is also called the "common boa."

Other common names include "jibóia" (Latin American) and "macajuel" (Trinidadian, pronounced mah-cah-well).

Geographic range

Found from northern Mexico through Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) to South America north of 35°S (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Argentina. Also in the Lesser Antilles (Dominica and St. Lucia), on San Andrés, Providencia and many other islands along the coasts of Mexico and Central and South America. The type locality given is "Indiis" -- a mistake, according to Peters and Orejas-Miranda (1970).

Habitat

Flourishes in a wide variety of environmental conditions, from tropical rainforests to arid country.

Behavior

Small individuals may climb into trees and shrubs to forage, but they become mostly terrestrial as they become older and heavier. It is said that specimens from Central America are more irascible, hissing loudly and striking repeatedly when disturbed, while those from South America tame down more readily.

Feeding

Prey includes a wide variety of mammals and birds. The bulk of their diet consists of rodents, but larger lizards and mammals as big as ocelots are also reported to have been consumed.

Reproduction

Ovoviviparous, females give birth to live young that average 15-20 inches (38-51 cm) in length.

Captivity

This species does well in captivity, usually becoming quite tame. It is a common sight in zoos. Captive longevity is 20 to 30 years, with rare accounts of over 40 years (BeBe, the oldest captive specimen on record, reached almost 41 years of age), making them a long-term commitment as a pet. Proper animal husbandry is the most significant factor in captive lifespan. Though still exported from their native South America in significant numbers, it is widely bred in captivity.

Subspecies

Subspecies Taxon author Common name Geographic range
B. c. amarali (Stull, 1932) Amaral's boa
B. c. constrictor Linnaeus, 1758 Red-tailed boa
B. c. imperator Daudin, 1803 Common northern boa
B. c. longicauda Price & Russo, 1991 Tumbes Peru boa
B. c. melanogaster Langhammer, 1983 Ecuadorian boa
B. c. nebulosa (Lazell, 1964) Dominican clouded boa
B. c. occidentalis Philippi, 1873 Argentine boa
B. c. orophias Linnaeus, 1758 St. Lucia boa
B. c. ortonii Cope, 1878 Orton's boa
B. c. sabogae (Barbour, 1906) Pearl Island boa

See also

References

External links

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