The boa constrictor is cream-colored to brownish on top. A series of markings become wider toward its tail with color intensifying to deep red-brown edged with black and cream. It has an irregular rhombic pattern on its flank.
The boa averages 6 to 12 feet in length, and weighs 30 to 40 pounds.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
The boa constrictor is native to Central and South America.
It lives in a variety of habitats, from desert to dense, wet tropical forest, open savanna and cultivated fields.
The boa constrictor feeds on small mammals (opossums, bats, mongooses, monkeys, rats and squirrels), small or moderate-sized birds, iguanas and large lizards.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
The boa constrictor is nocturnal and primarily terrestrial, though it forages in trees.
It is nonvenomous and solitary by nature.
Solitary by nature, the boa often makes its home in hollow logs and mammal burrows.
It hisses and strikes when threatened.
The boa constrictor uses heat-sensitive pits to locate prey (the pits are located along the snake's upper and lower labials); it catches prey by lying in wait or sneaking up on it.
The boa kills its prey by constriction. Its coils restrain the prey and tighten as the prey exhales, leading to suffocation.
Boa constrictors are seasonal breeders; the female emits a scent from her cloaca to attract a male.
Females give birth to a litter of between eight and 60 live young, which measure about 20 inches long each.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
The boa constrictor prefers to eat bats, which it catches by hanging from tree branches or the mouths of caves and knocking them out of air as they fly by.
The boa depends on its keen sense of to detect prey; its loosely hinged jaws can be stretched far apart, enabling the boa to ingest prey with bodies much larger in diameter than its head.
VI. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:
Valued for its ability to kill rodents, the boa constrictor is sometimes kept as a house pet in South America.
VII. POPULATION STATUS:
All species of boids are endangered or restricted.
Hunting for leather and meat, the live animal trade and loss of habitat all threaten the boa constrictor's survival.
VIII. MORE BOA CONSTRICTOR FACTS:
The boa constrictor has been known to consume house cats.
The boa family consists of 39 different species.
The emerald tree boa closely resembles the green tree python. Both snakes drape across tree branches with their heads in the center of the folds.