What Is a Puerto Rican Boa?


Puerto Rican boas are constrictor snakes that grow as long as 9 feet and kill by suffocating prey with their bodies. They are the biggest snakes on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, a U.S. unincorporated territory. Puerto Rican boas eat small mammals, lizards, bats and birds. The snakes, a type of rainbow boa, are on the list of endangered species as of 2014.

The boas are thin and have brown or gray coloring. They typically live up to 20 years in captivity. They can swim and move along the ground, but they typically live in trees. To capture bats, which fly quickly, they hang from trees near openings to caves, where they snatch the flying mammals out of the air. The Cave of the Boas, which is home to hundreds of thousands of bats, is a preferred hunting ground for the Puerto Rican boa. The snake is not venomous, but it uses its strong body to squeeze its victim to death before swallowing it headfirst.

Predators of the Puerto Rican boa include the mongoose, which is native to Asia and Africa but was brought to Puerto Rico to kill rodents. Female Puerto Rican boas do not lay eggs but rather give birth to live baby snakes. The babies fend for themselves immediately and do not receive care from their parents. It is unknown if the young snakes kill and eat in the same manner as the adults.