Boa Constrictor

Category: Wildlife

Made up of ten different subspecies, the boa constrictor is a type of large, heavy-bodied snake endemic to North, Central, and South America. Boas are famous for their hunting methods, in which they kill prey by crushing and asphyxiating them with their bodies.

Boa Constrictor

Boa Constrictor

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom: Animalia

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Boidae

Subfamily: Boinae

Genus: Boa

Species: B. constrictor

Common Name: The boa constrictor is one of the few animals that is most commonly known by its scientific name. It is also known as the red-tailed boa.


Boa constrictors are large and thick snakes. They can grow more than ten feet long and can weigh up to 100 lbs. in extreme cases.

Their coloring can vary greatly, though they usually feature a pattern of red-brown saddle-like markings along their back. These grow closer together near the tail, leading to the name "red-tailed boa".


Boas give birth to live young, rather than laying eggs. Over 60 baby snakes may be birthed from a single litter.


Boa constrictors are solitary creatures. They spend much of their time in trees as young animals, but prefer the ground as they age. They are most active at night. They feed by wrapping their body tightly around their prey after biting it. Once the prey dies, the boa will swallow it whole. Due to its very slow metabolism, the snake may not eat again for months after a meal.


A familiar site in zoos and even household reptilian collections, boa constrictors adapt well to captivity and may even become tame enough to handle. Boas belong to a group of nonvenomous constrictor snakes that also includes the Anaconda. They can be distinguished from pythons through various anatomical clues, but the main indicator is the fact that boas give birth to live young, whereas pythons lay eggs. It was previously thought that pythons were restricted to the "Old World", while boas were isolated to the "New World", but boa species have since been discovered in several Old World locations. The subfamily of Boinae, however, which includes the boa constrictor, is present only in the Americas.

Present Status

Thankfully, boa constrictors are not faced with any immediate risk in terms of becoming endangered or threatened. In fact, their numbers are increasing at a dramatic rate in Florida after being introduced into the wild accidentally. In Florida, they are considered an invasive species. They are a threat to natural wildlife and have become a serious problem in the Florida Everglades.