Colombian Red Tailed Boa

Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo

Location

In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Boa constrictor
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Boidae
Genus: Boa

Size

Male

Female

Height:
Length: 6-8 feet
Weight: Up to 50 lbs Up to 50 lbs
Maturity: 2-3 years 2-3 years

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Carnivorous
Activity Timeframe: Nocturnal
Interactivity: Solitary
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes
Gestation: 5-8 months
Lifespan in the Wild: 20-30 years
Lifespan in Captivity: 25-40 years

Geographic Range

Sonoran desert in Mexico through Central America and outlying islands, to far northern Peru.

Conservation

Status in the Wild:
Threats: Population

Characteristics

Boa constrictor has long been famous as one of the largest species of snake. In reality, boa constrictors are fairly modest-sized boids and are dwarfed by the other competitors for this title. 10-12 feet has been recorded, but this length is unusual. Red tailed boas may forage in the trees, but they are mainly terrestrial, especially the larger ones, and live in hollow logs, mammal burrows, etc.

Species Specifics

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.

Physical Characteristics

Like most snakes, boa constrictors rely on strong vomeronasal senses. Their tongues flick continuously, bringing odor molecules into contact with the chemosensory (vomeronasal) organ in the top of their mouths. In this manner, they constantly sense chemical cues in their environment. 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. Boa constrictors have good vision, even into the ultraviolet spectrum. In addition, they can detect both vibrations in the ground and sound vibrations through the air through their jaw bones. Unlike most boids, boa constrictors lack thermosensory pits.

Ecology

Habitat

Boa constrictors occupy a variety of habitats. Primary habitat is rainforest clearings or edges. However, they are also found in woodlands, grasslands, dry tropical forest, thorn scrub, and semi-desert.

Distribution

Diet

Consists of rodents, birds, iguanas, and monkeys.

Ecological Web

They are important predators of rodents and opossums, especially, which can become pests in some areas and carry human diseases. Though there are few references to predation on boa constrictors in nature, they are certainly killed and consumed by numerous reptilian, avian, and mammalian predators. Young boas are especially vulnerable.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Boa constrictors are nocturnal or crepuscular, though they bask in the sun to warm themselves in cool weather.

Behavior

Social Behavior

Boa constrictors are solitary, associating with conspecifics only to mate. However, Dominican populations which will occasionally den together.

Reproductive Behavior

The female boa constrictor is ovoviviparous which means eggs hatch within her young emerge alive at birth. Most female boa constrictors do not appear to reproduce annually.

Offspring

Known to give birth to as many as 64 at one time, but averaging about 30 offspring.

Conservation

Status

Some populations have been hit harder than others, and various wild populations are now endangered, particularly those on offshore islands.

Historical

Boa constrictors are popular in the pet trade. It is easy to obtain boa constrictors that have been captive bred for generations, increasing their affinity for humans.

Current Threats

Population

Our Role

Oakland Zoo believes that each one of us has the power to become stewards of the natural world, decrease our global footprint and inspire others to do the same. Learn about the conservation initiatives we're pursuing at the Zoo, and find out how you can help.

How You Can Help

Fascinating Facts

In certain parts of South America the Colombian red tail boa is kept as a house pet to kill rats.

In some areas boas constrictors can play a large role in controlling population of opossums which can be carriers for the human disease leishmaniasis, which is transferred by blood-feeding sand flies that parasitize the opossums.

If captive boa constrictors are presented with dead prey, they still constrict the food item before consuming it.

References

http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Boa_constrictor/

Oakland Zoo

P.O. Box 5238

9777 Golf Links Road Oakland, CA 94605