Oct 13, 2008

Boa Constrictor Constrictor

When you're talking about a red-tailed boa, you're usually just talking about the common boa constrictor. The red-tailed boa was so named by folks in the pet industry as a means of shedding the name (pardon the pun) 'constrictor', which doesn't lend itself to good sales figures to parents who want to buy their kid a new pet.

The boa constrictor is one of the few animals whose common name is the same as its scientific binomial name (Boa constrictor constrictor). If you do decide to own one, as with all prospective pet owners you need to know what you're getting yourself into. You'll start out with a manageable snake that feeds on pinkie mice and rats (like in the photo of Eva the Boa below). But you'll end up with a reptile that will get to 10 feet long, weigh 50 lbs, need a couple of small rabbits a month, and regular handling to keep it tame. And don't think you'll be able to unload it once it's full grown; the zoos and animal shelters have too many full grown snakes as it is.

But what if you encounter one in the wild? Well, you better hope you're in South America. Those boas tend to be tamer. It's the Central American ones who are the hissers and biters. Why the regional difference within a single species? Don't know. Maybe something in the agua.

Thanks for the photo, Robin.


Anonymous said...

Fun Fact: Iguana iguana is like that too. Fun, right?!

The husband guy wants a pet snake really bad (not necessarily a boa) but I'm not sure we can handle another 6-10 foot long reptile in the apartment.

Also, I wanna say I LOVE snakes and most reptiles, however, I'd be one of those people that wake up at 4am, sneak over to the mice cage and help them escape. Mice are too far up the food chain and that means bonding. I didn't have a problem with baby crickets (for the bearded dragon) but feel sad when I hear the leftover adult crickets chirping at night knowing they will be eaten the next morning.

Nervavels said...

I have/had a red-tailed boa. Well, my son had it, and had to move, and I took it on (I like snakes). Well, imagine my surprise upon research that those things grow to.. what??? 10-12 feet???? and they poop like dogs anywhere they feel like it (you gonna stop him?) and decide to bother you at 2 am 'cause they want to hear you talk. Well, mine did anyway. I finally started tanking him at night so I could get some sleep (what? Yea, I let him run loose in my bedroom. He's not aggressive.) Well, one day I let him loose and he broke through the screen of my window, found his way to the next door kitchen vent, and the cops were called et al. I came home to find my room in the usual disaster area he leaves it in when I'm not there and I just thought he was hiding somewhere. Now he's living in someone else's house with a bunch of other snakes and my room is free of snake vandalism. They are frisky and can be affectionate.. sorta. Kinda miss him. but only a little.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to my little Eva and how she's going to mature. She's my first snake and believel me, my neighbor (where she was born) let me know everything there is to having a snake before she let me own one. For now, I'll just enjoy her being famous!

Raging Wombat said...

Sounds like you're going to be a good snake mama, Robin.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. Wanted to point out that most commonly found Boa's in the pet trade are actually Colombian Boa Constrictor Imperator (BCI's).

For most people this doesn't matter but typically the BCI's "red tail" will turn to a brownish color as they get older while the BCC's will remain vibrant. Getting even more red in many cases as they shed.

Anonymous said...

That pic reminds me of Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame.

But, whaddya' expect from a disgruntled old coot?