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Sea Life, Animals
& Exhibits

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Colombian Red Tail Boa

(Boa constrictor imperator)

The boa constrictor belongs to the family Boidae, which includes seven genera of boas, four genera of sand boas, and eight genera of pythons. Though some of the 64 species in the family are less than 3.3 feet (1 m) in length, others are the largest snakes in the world; a green anaconda was recorded as being 37 feet (11.3 m) long!

Facts

They climb well, and those in forests may spend a lot of time in trees. Though boa constrictors can swim, most don’t spend significant time in water. During winter, in cooler parts of their range, they may become somewhat torpid, without being completely inactive.

Habitat

Red-tailed boa constrictors originate from tropical South and Central America, from Colombia to and Brazil all the way north through Mexico.

Diet

Their carnivorous diet consists mainly lizards, birds’ rodents, and depending on size may eat larger animals such as birds and monkeys. They do not eat every day and perhaps only once a week. During cooler winter months they may forgo eating entirely.  Boas, are constrictors, and consume their prey by suffocating it by coiling around it. Their teeth, then, do not deliver any poison when they bite, and are fused to their jaw, however, they are still sharp and dangerous. They shed their teeth and grow new ones throughout their lives.

Behavior

Red Tail Boas are ovo-viviparous, which means the female retains her eggs internally until they hatch, so she bears live young. Most clutches number 20-50 thin-membrane eggs; the record is 77, at the zoo in Quebec. The neonates are born after 100-150 days of development. Females can store sperm for quite some time before fertilization takes place, so the total apparent gestation can take 10 months. The female will usually eat little or nothing while she is retaining eggs (called gravid in reptiles).

Predators

Hatchlings fall prey to larger birds and reptiles. During adulthood, larger predatory animals like jaguars and crocodiles are predators.