Colombian Red Tailed Boa
SPECIES: constrictor imperator
This boa constrictor is typically tan with approximately 20 dark dorsal saddles running the length of the body. The tail blotches are usually red, orange or brown with black edging. Laterally there are tan, brown or black blotches (circular or diamond-shaped) spaced along the saddles. Undersides are yellowish, spotted with black. Females average 7' to 9' in length, males 6' to 8'. Maximum size is around 12' and 50 pounds, but any length over 10' is unusual.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Sonoran desert in Mexico through Central America and outlying islands, to far northern Peru. Boa constrictors may forage in the trees but they are mainly terrestrial, especially the larger ones, and live in hollow logs, mammal burrows, etc.
Consists chiefly of rodents, birds, iguanas, and monkeys. Kills prey by coiling around and suffocating.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Females reach sexual maturity at three years of age, males at 18 months. Gestation is 120-150 days. The female boa constrictor bears her young alive (ovoviviparous) and has been known to give birth to as many as 64 at one time, but 30 is the average. The young are about 24 inches long and resemble their parents in coloring. Boas may live 40 years in captivity.
Has a keen sense of smell and facial heat sensors, both of which help detect the presence of other animals. As with other snakes, the boa's loosely hinged jaws can be stretched far apart, enabling it to swallow animals with bodies much larger in diameter than the boa's head.
Although a wild boa constrictor will hiss and strike when provoked, it is easily tamed and maintained in zoos. In South America it is kept as a house pet to kill rats.
STATUS IN WILD:
All species of boas are endangered or restricted. Hunting for leather and meat and the live animal trade has reduced their numbers, as has reduction of forest habitat. Captive breeding of boa constrictors is on the increase at levels which should ensure survival of the species. On Appendix II of CITES.