Depending on boa constrictors' species and size, they prey upon lizards, frogs, birds, rodents and medium-sized mammals, such as monkeys and pigs. Boa constrictors live in diverse habitats in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and North, South and Central America, so their diets reflect the variety of local animals. Mongooses, opossums, deer, tapirs, squirrels, bats and even caiman are hunted by these snakes.
Boa constrictors typically hunt at night and hide quietly as they wait for vulnerable prey to wander close by. Most boa species have mouths with temperature-sensitive scales that detect body heat, allowing them to sneak up on unseen prey in the dark and when surrounded by foliage. They also use their tongues to smell by detecting scent particles in the air.
When they have prey in their sights, boa constrictors ambush hunt by striking unexpectedly with their teeth and quickly coiling their bodies around the trapped animal. As their name indicates, boa constrictors tighten their grip until their prey suffocates. Next, the snake unwraps itself and extends its jaws outward to swallow the entire carcass. Digestion muscles inside a boa constrictor's body contract rhythmically to push the food to the snake's stomach. While the snake's throat is blocked, an air tube in its mouth enables breathing.