Boa constrictor | Description, Size, Subspecies, & Facts (2024)



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Also known as: Boa constrictor

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boa constrictor

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Related Topics:
Boa constrictor ortonii
red-tailed boa
Argentine boa constrictor
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boa constrictor, (Boa constrictor), large thick-bodied snake of the boa family, Boidae. Its range is wide, from Argentina to northern Mexico. Though it thrives in tropical rainforests, it also inhabits savannas, cane fields, and semiarid scrublands. The snake’s adult length is typically about 10 feet (3 metres), though individuals of more than 18 feet (5.5 metres) have been reported; Central American boas rarely exceed 8 feet (2.4 metres). The number of boa constrictor subspecies is disputed, ranging from 6 to 11.

The head of the boa constrictor is long and triangular, with dark streaks from the eyes to the back of the jaw and another dark streak along the top. The basic coloration is deep brown-and-black markings—often in the shape of triangles, ovals, and joined ovals—against a pale brown-and-gray background. However, colours and markings frequently vary, not only among the subspecies but also among individuals in the same population. In Boa constrictor ortonii, native to Peru, markings on the tail are red rather than brown, and the tail pattern is distinct. The Argentine boa constrictor (Boa constrictor occidentalis) is silvery gray with an unusual network pattern.

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The boa constrictor is active from dusk to dawn, feeding on a wide variety of birds and mammals. It is mostly terrestrial but climbs into trees in search of birds. In daytime it shelters in tree hollows, old logs, and animal burrows. It kills by constriction, first grasping the prey and then using its coils to exert a deadly amount of pressure. Slow moving and of a mild temperament, it is easily tamed. Farmers keep the snake around their fields and storage sheds to reduce the rodent populations. The red-tailed boa (Boa constrictor constrictor) is a popular exotic pet.

Boa constrictors bear live young about 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 metre) long. Each litter numbers from one to several dozen young.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.

Boa constrictor | Description, Size, Subspecies, & Facts (2024)


Boa constrictor | Description, Size, Subspecies, & Facts? ›

Fast Facts

What are some fun facts about the boa constrictor? ›

After a large meal, a boa doesn't need to eat again for weeks. A boa constrictor grows throughout its whole life, which can be 20 to 30 years. An adult boa will generally weigh more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) and grow to about 13 feet (4 meters) long. Boa constrictors tend to live alone.

What is the average size of a boa constrictor? ›

Most adult Boa Constrictors are about 10-16 feet (3-5 m) in total length. These are very large, stout-bodied snakes with dark brown hourglass-shaped saddles down the body that become reddish bands towards the tail. The background coloration is usually tan, light brown, grayish brown, or cream colored.

What is the largest species of boa constrictor? ›

Boas (Boidae)

The most massive living member of this highly diverse reptilian order is the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) of the neotropical riverways. These may exceed 8.8 m (29 ft) and 227 kg (500 lb), although such reports are not fully verified.

How strong is a full grown boa constrictor? ›

The strongman of the snake world, a boa constrictor is capable of exerting 6 to 12 lbs per square inch of pressure, and literally squeezes the life out of its prey, as Steve found when he tested this… on himself! Not a situation many of us would like to find ourselves in.

What is the lifespan of a boa constrictor? ›

Lifespan. Boa constrictors live 20-30 years in the wild.

What is a surprising fact? ›

The circulatory system is more than 60,000 miles long. The Pope can't be an organ donor. The world's longest concert lasted 453 hours. It's impossible to hum while holding your nose. Africa is the only continent in all four hemispheres.

What are the different sizes of boas? ›

Fast Facts. The boa constrictor is a large, heavy-bodied snake. Their body markings consist of beige blotches on a dark brown background. Adults range in size from 2.4-3 m (8-10 ft.); some boas can exceed 3.6 m (12 ft.), but lengths of over 11 feet are extremely rare; newborn boas measure about 60 cm (24 in.)

What age are boa constrictors fully grown? ›

The young are independent at birth and grow rapidly for the first few years, shedding regularly (once every one to two months). At 3–4 years, boa constrictors become sexually mature and reach the adult size of 6–10 feet (1.8–3.0 m), although they continue to grow at a slow rate for the rest of their lives.

How big of an animal can a boa constrictor eat? ›

Depending on the size of the snake, boas may eat rodents, birds, lizards, frogs, and small to medium-sized mammals like opossums, monkeys, pigs, or deer. Some anacondas have been known to eat prey as large as a young tapir or even a caiman.

What is the friendliest boa constrictor? ›

The Central American Boa tends to be the most docile of the Boa genus, and is the most common species available in the pet trade. Some sources argue that it is one of the best beginner snakes a reptile enthusiast can have.

What is the largest boa snake ever recorded? ›

Titanoboa cerrejonensis

Titanoboa could grow up to 12.8 m (42 ft) long, perhaps even up to 14.3 m (47 ft) long, and weigh around 730–1,135 kg (1,610–2,500 lb). The discovery of Titanoboa cerrejonensis supplanted the previous record holder, Gigantophis garstini, which is known from the Eocene of Egypt.

What eats boas? ›

A couple of specific boa constrictor predators include powerful avians such as the white-bellied sea eagle and the wedge-tailed eagle. Boa constrictors are also occasionally eaten by mammalian and fellow reptilian creatures -- think jaguars and crocodiles, for example.

What are some cool facts about boa constrictors? ›

8 Things You Didn't Know About Boa Constrictors
  • All Boas Are Constrictors, but There's Only One Boa Constrictor. ...
  • Boa Constrictors Give Birth to Live Babies. ...
  • They Don't Kill Their Prey by Suffocation. ...
  • They Still Use What's Left of Their Legs. ...
  • Living With Boas Is a Long Commitment. ...
  • In the Wild, They Help Control Rodents.

What is the most docile boa constrictor? ›

Colombian boa constrictors are some of the most docile, while imported Mexican and Central American boas tend to be a bit more aggressive.

Do boa constrictors like to be held? ›

Most boas do like to be handled, especially with practice.

What makes a boa constrictor unique? ›

Boas are considered primitive snakes, differing from other species by having two vestigial (remnant) hind limbs. These vestigial limbs appear as spurs on either side of the cloaca. Like all snakes, boas are excellent swimmers, but they usually avoid going into the water as much as possible.

How fast is a boa constrictor? ›

They can't move very fast, only about 1 mile per hour (1.6 kilometres per hour) on open ground. But since they don't have to chase their food, they don't need to travel quickly. Boa constrictors can swim; most don't spend significant time in water.

How old is the oldest boa constrictor? ›

Boas can live up to 25 years in the wild and up to 30 years or more in captivity. The oldest common boa in captivity was recorded to have lived 40 years.

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