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

snake

verifiedCite

While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies.Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions.

Select Citation Style

Feedback

Thank you for your feedback

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Print

verifiedCite

While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies.Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions.

Select Citation Style

Feedback

Thank you for your feedback

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Also known as: Boa constrictor

Written and fact-checked by

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree. They write new content and verify and edit content received from contributors.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Last Updated: Article History

boa constrictor

See all media

Related Topics:
Argentine boa constrictor
Boa constrictor ortonii
red-tailed boa
On the Web:
Florida Museum - Boa Constrictor (June 14, 2024)

See all related content →

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.

Britannica QuizAnimal Group Names

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)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jonah Leffler

Last Updated:

Views: 6296

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (45 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jonah Leffler

Birthday: 1997-10-27

Address: 8987 Kieth Ports, Luettgenland, CT 54657-9808

Phone: +2611128251586

Job: Mining Supervisor

Hobby: Worldbuilding, Electronics, Amateur radio, Skiing, Cycling, Jogging, Taxidermy

Introduction: My name is Jonah Leffler, I am a determined, faithful, outstanding, inexpensive, cheerful, determined, smiling person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.