|B. c. imperator|
Boa constrictors are closely related to the aquatic anaconda, but unlike their relatives, boa constrictors prefer to stay away from water. Boa constrictors are known for their powerful hunting techniques, their enormous size, and for their beautiful skin. They have been hunted for their skin, and are kept as pets by many snake lovers. So much so, that they have become an officially endangered species. Some South American households keep boa constrictors to control the rat and mouse populations.
Boa Constrictors come in many different colors and patterns including tan, brown, black, red or even pink, depending on their environment. The skin is scaly and dry to the touch.They typically get up to about 13 feet. The longest recorded boa constrictor was 18 feet long. Boas, like all other snakes, are cold blooded, which means that they cannot generate their own body heat. They have to rely upon their environment to regulate body heat. The boa constrictor has a forked tongue to sense odors, and has special heat sensitive spots on its face to detect warm blooded prey. Boas are carnivorous, they eat only meat. A boa constrictors diet consists of warm blooded animals such as birds, large lizards, and various mammals (mostly rodents). Boa Constrictors do not have fangs. When killing prey a boa, very quickly, snatches the animal, wraps its body around the animal, and squeezes it until the prey suffocates. The boa constrictor then swallows its food whole.
When a female boa constrictor is ready to mate, it secretes an odor from the cloaca to attract males.The two snakes join at the cloaca to mate. Boa constrictors reproduce with internal fertilization. When the eggs are fertilized, the mother carries them and incubates them inside her. After the eggs hatch, the mother will give birth to live young, up to 60 at a time. At the time of birth, a baby boa constrictor is about two feet long. They grow all throughout their 25-30 year lifespan.
Wild boa constrictors are found from the north of Central America to the south of South America. They can live in a lot of different environments. They have been found to inhabit deserts, tropical forests, savannas, and agricultural fields. Also, boa constrictors are both terrestrial (lives on the ground), and arboreal (live in trees).
Researchers have found that boa constrictors as well as other types of snakes have the ability to see infrared images. This ability is useful to snakes to locate prey in dense forest and even at night. Scientists are now trying to analyze their vision capabilities in order to find a way to duplicate it for human use. Currently a very large infrared device has been developed that can get up to the boa constrictors capabilities, but because it is so big, it is not practical to use yet. Infrared sensors are being looked into for the scientific, industrial safety, and medical fields. The Military is also researching snakes to try and find a way to use infrared sensors for night vision that do not need to stay cooled in order to function.
- Boa Constrictor Fact Sheet, National Zoo
- Boa Constrictor, nature.ca
- Boa Constrictor Profile, National Geographic
- Boa Constrictor, Enchanted Learning
- Eye Design Book
- Taxonomy, Animal Diversity Web