Columbian (Red-Tail) Boa Constrictor
Like a great number of people, even the experienced staff at Black Pine were a little wary of welcoming a snake that can grow up to 10' long! The myths that surround these interesting reptiles range from "slimy" to "evil", though in reality they are mostly just misunderstood.
There are literally thousands of species of snakes throughout the world, many of which are venomous. The boa, however, is not. This type of snake constricts its prey to kill, slowly suffocating it by squeezing tighter each time the prey exhales. The boa is, by some, mistaken for a more lethal and/or larger varieties that include pythons and anacondas. Boas don't get that large, and even at adulthood cannot consume anything much larger than a medium-sized rabbit. Most boas are very docile and are popular among "pet" snake enthusiasts.
In January 2004, a boa constrictor named 'Slitheran' (left) was given permanent refuge at Black Pine. She was a pet in need of a new home due to a very nervous mom who was not fond of her son's bedroom companion.
At full adulthood, the Columbian boa will reach about 10 feet in length. The largest boa ever found was 18 feet long. Born live and about 24" long, boas grow continuously and can live up to 20 years of age. In South America, their native land, people often keep boas as pets in their homes to control the rat population. Likewise, people around the world have discovered that this species of snake is typically docile, and rarely a threat to humans. As a result, they are a very common exotic pet.
Not all is well, however, with the numbers of boas that now exist in the pet trade. Most recently, pet constrictors that have been released by private owners in the U.S. have caused significant threats to natural ecosystems. Boas, as well as pythons and iguanas, are now considered invasive species throughout much of the southeastern U.S., and especially in Florida where 99% of the native raccoon population has been exterminated by the vast number released and multiplying. As a result, the first-ever federal ban on the sale and transfer of several large constricting snake species across state lines was passed in early 2012. Though boas are not on that restricted list, they are among more species proposed for future action. Until or unless reptile enthusiasts and breeders do a better job controlling the population of pet boas (and other reptiles), facilities like Black Pine will continue to push for better regulation and more responsible ownership practices. Too many homeless and unwanted pets already exist!
InfoBox - Boa Constrictor
Diet in wild: Small mammals, birds, and other animals.
Life span in captivity: Up to 20 years.
Size: Up to 10'.
Native habitat: Central and South America.